Park calls for strengthening ties with Canada

November 18, 2015


By Kim Kwang-tae

MANILA (Yonhap) — President Park Geun-hye called for strengthening cooperation with Ottawa as she met Canada’s new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Wednesday on the sidelines of an annual summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in the Philippines.

Park also said she hopes that Trudeau will successfully “make a real change” he spoke of in a victory speech last month. He said it’s time for “a real change” in Canada.

It marks the first time that Park has met with Trudeau, who was elected last month. Last year, Park held a summit with Trudeau’s predecessor in Ottawa and upgraded bilateral relations to a strategic partnership.

The two leaders are expected to exchange opinions on a wide range of issues, including bilateral trade, climate change and the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

A free trade deal between South Korea and Canada went into effect earlier this year, a move that could further boost bilateral trade and investment.

Trudeau described the free trade deal as a “great one, but we need to work on building better business ties and moving forward with our friendship and partnership.”

Park also held a separate summit with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III to discuss ways to boost substantial cooperation in defense, economy and other areas, as well as security of South Koreans in the Philippines.

Crimes against South Koreans in the Philippines have been on a steady rise in recent years. Nine Koreans have been murdered there this year alone.

The back-to-back summits come hours before Aquino held a welcoming ceremony for Park and other leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

The APEC summit brings together leaders of the 21 member states, including the United States, China, Japan and Australia, which together account for nearly 60 percent of global gross domestic product and almost half of world trade.

Park said APEC economies can no longer take economic growth for granted because “growth as usual” is no longer possible.

“We need to prevent the region from being stuck on a plateau of slow growth and to secure new drivers of growth. To this end, we should redouble our efforts to further strengthen regional economic integration,” Park said in an interview with the APEC Secretariat posted Tuesday on APEC’s website.

This year, the summit is meant to discuss how to build inclusive growth and sustainable and resilient communities, but it is being overshadowed by the recent deadly terror attacks in Paris that killed more than 120 people.

Terrorism was also high on the agenda at the G-20 summit, the world’s premier forum designed to tackle economic issues.

At the summit in Turkey earlier this week, Park, U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders condemned the attacks in Paris as they pledged to fight terrorism.

Also on Wednesday, Park attended a session of the APEC Business Advisory Council and plans to hold an unofficial dialogue with the Pacific Alliance, a Latin American trade bloc composed of four countries bordering the Pacific Ocean — Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.

Park also said in the interview that South Korea is dedicated to sharing its development experience with other developing countries, noting sustainable development cannot be achieved without solving the problem of poverty in rural areas in which approximately 70 percent of the world’s impoverished reside.

Aquino is set to host a welcoming banquet for Park, Obama and other Asia-Pacific leaders later in the day.