01:57 GMT +318 October 2019
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    Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (2nd L) and South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak (2nd R) attend a bilateral meeting during the fifth trilateral summit between China, South Korea and Japan at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 13, 2012

    Asia's Biggest Economies Join Forces for Broadside Against US Protectionism

    © AFP 2019 / POOL / Petar Kujundzic
    Asia & Pacific
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    A trilateral declaration by China, Japan and South Korea to reject protectionism is a sign of greater regional co-operation, analyst Valeriy Kistanov told Sputnik.

    On Friday, the finance ministers of China, Japan and South Korea held a meeting in Yokohama, where they announced their united stance against protectionism.

    "We agree that trade is one of the most important engines of economic growth and development, which contribute to productivity improvements and job creations," the ministers and their central bankers said in a press communique following the meeting.

    "We will resist all forms of protectionism," they stated, making a commitment that was noticeably absent from the G20 press communique issued in March.

    While the G20 traditionally pledges to resist protectionism, the promise was dropped following the group's last meeting in Baden Baden, after pressure from Washington.

    The finance ministers' meeting took place on the sidelines of the Manila-based Asian Development Bank's annual meeting in Japan.

    Analyst Valeriy Kistanov told Sputnik that the finance ministers' meeting, which took place on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank's annual meeting in Japan, is a sign of increased trilateral co-operation in an attempt to head off economic and geopolitical uncertainty.

    "These three countries have long had a need to create institutional forms of cooperation within this trilateral framework, including a free trade zone. This has been hampered, first of all, by political disagreements and territorial disputes, in particular between China and South Korea regarding the US THAAD deployment."

    Kistanov said that the protectionist foreign policy pursued by Donald Trump is pushing the countries closer together.

    "Despite this, they are nevertheless starting to cooperate more actively in an economic sense. In my view, this is due to the policy pursued by the US under Trump, who is openly seeking to strengthen protectionism in US foreign policy."

    "He has accused China and Japan of having a huge trade surplus with the US, and the US withdrawal from the TTP agreement really buried Japan's hopes that of stimulating its economic growth with that mechanism."

    "The US wants to regulate its trade relations with partners on a bilateral basis – separately with Japan, separately with China, separately with South Korea. This makes it easier to put pressure on them, which prompted the finance ministers' decision to join forces and fight against protectionism," Kistanov said.

    Chen Fengying of the Chinese Institute of Contemporary International Relations' Center for World Economy told Sputnik that the communique sends a strong message about Asian economies' commitment to free trade.

    "Asia has played a great role in global economic growth, in particular north-east Asia, where the countries with the world's second and third most economic potential are located. That's why the voice of Asia can have a great effect on the international community – we support international trade development and open regional and global trade. This shows that, regardless of the difficulties the Asian economy faces, it still defends openness to the world," Fengying said.

    "The three countries' ministers are saying that trade is one of the most important engines of economic growth and development. In the context of globalization, trade and investment is one of the motors of the world economy. If these mechanisms work slowly, it can affect the development of the global economy."

    "The position of Asia is that globalization is the engine of world economic growth, it stimulates global trade and investment. The position voiced in Yokohama is the view of Asia, in favor of stimulating global economic growth, and this signal has a great deal of influence," Fengying said.

    At a meeting with ASEAN finance leaders at the Asian Development Bank summit, Japan also suggested a way of diversifying the region's currency options which will reduce vulnerability to fluctuations in the dollar or other currencies.

    Tokyo proposed new type of bilateral currency swap arrangement with south-east Asian nations, which would provide them with up to $40 billion of short-term liquidity during times of crisis.

    "Facilitating the funding of yen in ASEAN will contribute to further regional financial stability," finance ministers from Japan and ASEAN stated after the meeting.

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