"Let's work together for an era of prosperous Indo-Pacific region. South Korea will also fulfill its responsibility based on strong solidarity."
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol became one of the 13 inaugural members of the U.S.-led Indo Pacific Economic Framework on Monday along with leaders of Japan, India and Australia.
Joining the launch ceremony hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden in Japan by video link, President Yoon pledged to create a mutually beneficial supply chain in the region particularly on chips, batteries and future cars where South Korean technology excels.
Although it's seen by many as an economic bloc meant to counter China’s dominance, the South Korean leader said IPEF is not limited to a certain set of contents, but that it is an evolving entity which will establish new rules of commerce in the fastest growing part of the world.
He also stressed in his speech that he hopes the IPEF seeks "openness, transparency and inclusiveness" as mentioned in the South Korea-U.S. joint statement this past weekend during President Biden's trip to Seoul.
On his way to work on Monday morning, Mr. Yoon said the IPEF is like no other free trade agreement and explained why South Korea should take part in it.
"It's a process of creating a broad rule on economy and trade within the Indo-Pacific region. That's why we should join, for sure. If we are excluded from that process, it will harm our national interest a lot."
"Experts say South Korea's participation in IPEF will enable Asia's fourth largest economy to reduce dependence on China, its biggest trading partner, by diversifying its supply chain and trade portfolio.
Seoul's top office says it doesn't expect any retaliatory action from China as it's also part of the China-led RCEP and since we live in a complementary world where there is no zero-sum game.
Yoon Jung-min, Arirang News."