South Korean President Moon Jae-in is considering joining CPTPP ahead of the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden in January. File Photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 8 (UPI) -- South Korea is not ruling out joining a multilateral trade pact that could be revived under the U.S. administration of President-elect Joe Biden.
President Moon Jae-in said Tuesday at a trade ceremony in Seoul he would "continue to consider" joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, amid ongoing South Korean efforts to "diversify the market," Donga Ilbo reported.
Moon's comments come after Seoul last month joined the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, or RCEP. South Korea could be pursuing a balancing act on trade by joining CPTPP, which the United States could rejoin under a Biden administration, according to the Donga.
The CPTPP replaced TPP after President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal proposed by his predecessor Barack Obama. CPTPP was created in 2018 by countries including Japan, Canada and Australia after Trump's decision.
A South Korean presidential Blue House official told the Donga Tuesday Seoul could pursue both trade pacts because "RCEP and CPTPP are not conflicting, but complementary."
Moon said at the trade ceremony his administration will also expand on other free trade agreements, the Korea Herald reported.
"The FTA network will be expanded with the focus on New Southern and New Northern nations that have immense potential," Moon said, referring to Seoul's Asia policy.
Moon's remarks on trade came the same day the ruling Democratic Party voted in favor of a bill to establish a new corruption investigation agency, JoongAng Daily reported.
Opposition conservatives protested the action and allege the new agency would be politicized. The bill is most likely to pass at Seoul's National Assembly owing to the ruling's party's majority, however.
Kim Chong-in, a senior politician with the People Power Party, the opposition, said the actions threaten democratic rule in South Korea, according to News 1.
"I believed democracy had matured after [the mass campaign for democracy in] 1987, but watching the Democratic Party's anti-democratic moves leaves me speechless," Kim said.