NAFTA Renegotiation may be an Opportunity for Korea-LAC Cooperation

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"Donald Trump’s new trade policy can be an opportunity for Korea to expand its reach to the Latin American market.”

During an exclusive interview with Maeil Business, Michael Shifter, President of the Inter-American Dialogue, a think-tank based in Washington DC, said that the Trump administration’s policies such as the renegotiation of NAFTA could have positive effects.

He participated as a keynote speaker at the ‘2017 Korea-LAC Future Cooperation Forum’ which was jointly hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Korea International Trade Association from June 28 to June 30.

Mr. Shifter said that concerns regarding the renegotiation of NAFTA were causing positive changes that could make the issue in question an opportunity in disguise.

“Latin American countries vulnerable to Trump’s protectionist policies, such as Mexico, are creating new partnerships in search of alternative markets.”

He said that Trump’s new policies could make way for Latin American economies, traditionally dependent on the US and raw materials, to become stronger through industrial diversification. He added that these efforts would provide an opportunity for Korea to strengthen its relations with Latin American countries and widen its foothold in the Latin American market.

On NAFTA renegotiations, he explained that “the termination of NAFTA means losing 5 million American jobs” continuing that “renegotiations that are set to begin in August will probably entail small modifications rather than profound changes.”

He stressed that this would be an opportunity for third country companies (including Korean firms) to target the Latin American market, a market that is recently experiencing a growth in the middle class. He said that “although Latin American countries are marked by social inequality and bipolarization, levels of inequality decreased during 2002 to 2012 when these countries experienced economic growth” adding that “those people who have escaped poverty are actively purchasing consumer goods.”

Mr. Shifter also stressed the importance of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the possibility of Korea-Latin America cooperation in this area.

He said that “even Latin American companies understand the importance of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the fact that the inability to keep up with this technology equals losing global competitiveness.” He then continued explaining that “Korea is regarded as an interesting partner to cooperate in areas such as biotechnology, clean energy and information economies.

Underlining the importance of infrastructure in order to promote the Fourth Industrial Revolution, he gave the example of Peru as a potential partner for Korean firms, citing the country’s interest in expanding its business telecommunication capabilities.

However, he warned that “notwithstanding the creation of new markets and the proactive attitude of Latin American governments in this area, there is still the risk of market contraction” and advised that “Korean firms should take into account the political and economic situation in each country as well as the ability of governments to take action.”

Read the original interview in Korean at Maeil Business

경제호황으로 중산층 급부상…산업구조 다양화 가능한 시점
한국기업 새 시장 열릴수 있어…4차산업혁명분야도 협력 기대

■ 중남미 정책 싱크탱크 IAD 마이클 시프터 회장 
"도널드 트럼프 미국 대통령이 새로운 보호무역 정책을 펴는 지금이 한국에는 오히려 중남미시장을 확대할 수 있는 매우 좋은 기회라고 생각합니다." 

미국 워싱턴DC 소재의 중남미 정책 싱크탱크 '인터 아메리칸 다이얼로그(IAD)'의 마이클 시프터 회장은 지난달 28일 매일경제와의 단독 인터뷰에서 북미자유무역협정(NAFTA·나프타) 재협상 등으로 대표되는 트럼프 행정부의 정책이 가져올 효과를 긍정적으로 평가했다.. 

그는 대한민국 외교부와 한국무역협회가 주최해 지난달 28~30일 열린 '2017 한·중남미 미래협력포럼'에 기조 연설자로 참석했다. 

기존 무역 구도를 흔들어 혼란을 야기할 수도 있는 나프타 재협상이 위기가 아닌 기회인 이유에 대해 시프터 회장은 나프타 재협상에 대한 우려와 논의가 일으키고 있는 긍정적인 변화 때문이라고 설명했다.
그는 "특히 멕시코와 같은 중남미 국가들은 트럼프 행정부의 보호주의가 실현되면 큰 타격을 입기 때문에 현 상태가 유지되기를 바라면서도 다른 한편으로는 그에 대비해 대안적인 시장을 찾고 새로운 파트너와 관계를 맺는 등 다양한 시도를 하고 있다"고 했다. 

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