SEOUL, May 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's top trade official met with the head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seoul on Monday and discussed global trade and investment issues, including ways to restore the multilateral trading system and reform the organization's dispute settlement system, Seoul's industry ministry said.
Trade Minister Ahn Duk-geun met with WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in Seoul, who arrived earlier in the day for a three-day stay, during which she will highlight the importance of "re-globalization," and discuss the roles of her organization, South Korea and other member nations to restore the multilateral trading mechanism, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
How to restore the multilateral trading system has been a key issue as the long-standing global mechanism has been threatened by the great competition between the United States and China, deepening geopolitical concerns amid the Ukraine-Russian war and the subsequent protectionism.
Also on the table was the reform of the WTO's dispute settlement system, as negotiations are under way on how to reboot the dispute system, which the U.S. has criticized for overreach and lengthy processes.
The trade dispute arbitration system has been stalled for years due to the blockages by the Donald Trump-era U.S. of adjudicator appointments.
The two sides also discussed negotiations among the WTO members on e-commerce and investment facilitation, and South Korea's role over the course of a series of multilateral negotiations, the ministry said.
"South Korea will express our strong support for the recovery of the rules-based multilateral trading system, which has been behind our economic growth. We will play a leading role for the WTO reform and resolving pending issues," a ministry official said.
While in Seoul, the WTO chief is scheduled to meet senior officials, including with Prime Minister Han Duck-soo and Bank of Korea Gov. Rhee Chang-yong.
She will deliver a lecture and have a discussion session with experts on the WTO principles. She also plans to visit internet portal giant Naver Corp. to meet with young business persons in the digital sector to discuss the future of digital and service trade, the ministry said.
Okonjo-Iweala is the seventh director-general of the WTO. She took office in March 2021, becoming the first woman and the first African to serve in the post. Her term of office will end in August 2025, according to her office.
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