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Seoul, Beijing, Tokyo oppose trade protectionism, hail inter-Korean summit

Finance chiefs from South Korea, China and Japan on Friday warned against growing protectionism trends and stressed the importance of promoting an open and rule-based trade framework, the Korean news agency Yonhap reported. 

"We stressed the importance of resisting all forms of protectionism, ensuring an open and rule-based multilateral trade and investment system, and of strengthening resilience against external shocks, and agree to further enhance communication and coordination among China, Japan and Korea," they said in a joint statement released after their meeting in Manila. 

The finance chiefs also said they should remain vigilant against downside risks that may threaten the recovery in the global economy. "We noted the risks posed by rising trade protectionism, faster-than-expected tightening in global financial conditions and uncertainty of geopolitical tensions," the statement said. 

The statement came as the world's two superpowers -- the United States and China -- are competing to impose higher tariffs on each other's goods that could escalate into a full-blown trade war. 

Global equity markets have been rocked by concerns over the dispute between the two leading economies that can adversely affect other countries. 

South Korean Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon attended the 18th Trilateral Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors' Meeting here along with Bank of Korea Gov. Lee Ju-yeol, Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso and Yu Weiping, the assistant finance minister of China. 

The three-way meeting was held on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank's annual meeting in the Philippines. 

The three countries welcomed the recent headway made in the inter-Korean summit. 

"We welcome the Panmunjeom Declaration agreed to by the leaders of South and North Korea on April 27, 2018, and look forward to further progress in easing geopolitical tension in the region," the top economic policymakers said. 

Last Friday, the leaders of the two Koreas held a summit at the border village of Panmunjom in which they vowed an end to hostilities, the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and the establishment of a permanent and solid peace regime. 

Also, the 10 members of ASEAN and the three nations said in a statement that they resist trade protectionism, which, along with geopolitical tensions and an accelerating tightening mode around the globe, is adding to uncertainties about a recovery in the global economy. 

Top financial officials from the 13 countries also welcomed the inter-Korean summit. 

They agreed to reinforce financial support, including the flexibility to extend the period of provision under the IMF-linked portion of the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization (CMIM) agreement, and add an overarching legal basis for conditionality in order for the CMIM to support members in addressing their risks and vulnerabilities through policy recommendations as well as financial support. 

The CMIM, launched in 2010, refers to the US$240 billion pool that can be tapped through currency swap deals in times of financial crisis. 

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