|President speaks during a video conference of G20 leaders at Cheong Wa Dae, March 26. Yonhap|
Moon proposes exemption of entry bans on business travelers
By Do Je-hae
President Moon Jae-in and other leaders of G20 countries vowed a coordinated global response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, in an extraordinary virtual summit, according to Cheong Wa Dae, Thursday.
"Korea remains committed to continuously improving and refining quarantine measures and will share our successful response model with the international community," Moon said in the video conference.
Moon also made some specific proposals for stronger cooperation among G20 member countries on COVID-19 management, including the sharing of all clinical data and quarantine experience, as well as to work together toward developing therapeutics and a vaccine. He also proposed measures for coordinated actions for a global economic recovery, such as expansionary macroeconomic policies and strengthening the global financial safety net.
In particular, he called on member states to recognize the need for expediting business exchanges despite COVID-19, which has prompted countries around the world to significantly tighten their borders. Currently, more than 170 countries and territories are imposing regulations against travelers from Korea. "In order to minimize COVID-19's negative repercussions on the global economy, it is vital that countries maintain the flow of essential economic exchanges. To that end, to the extent that we do not undermine any one country's efforts at disease control, I propose that we seek ways to allow for the travel of essential persons such as scientists, medical professionals and business leaders."
|Moon at G20 virtual summit/ Yonhap|
The first G20 virtual meeting produced a joint statement pledging concerted efforts to safeguard the global economy, address international trade disruptions and enhance global cooperation through front-line international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The South Korean leader shared Korea's experience in dealing effectively with the COVID-19, such as a fast testing system, the campaign for social distancing, and government policies to financially support businesses hit by the virus spread.
"Since the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, my administration has adhered to the three principles of openness, transparency and democracy in its response. We identified new cases by conducting an overwhelming number of tests, and have meticulously tracked down transmission pathways," Moon said. "Moreover, confirmed cases and their close contacts were all placed in isolation and banned from travelling abroad. Doing so, we believed was the best way to curb the spread of the infection and reduce the loss of lives."
"In this process, all creative tools at our disposal have been mobilized. Highly accurate diagnostic reagents that enable quick tests were developed at an early stage. For swift and timely testing and infection prevention, drive-through testing sites were set up. Also, an IT-enabled self-quarantine app and a self-diagnosis app were deployed to closely monitor those under self-isolation. Furthermore, in accordance with the WHO's recommendation, we minimized restriction on cross-border movements of people and goods while undertaking measures to maximize the impact of quarantines through special entry procedures."
Moon also introduced measures to help the business sector that has been hit by COVID-19. "To ensure that COVID-19 does not lead to serious contractions in consumption, investment and industrial activities, the Korean government is implementing bold expansionary macroeconomic policies and financial stabilization measures totalling $100 billion (132 trillion won). First, in order to relieve the burden on affected businesses, micro-business owners and the self-employed, as well as to boost consumption, we prepared an assistance package worth $26 billion."
|Chinese President Xi Jinping attends the G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders' Summit on COVID-19 via video link in Beijing, capital of China, March 26. Xinhua-Yonhap|
"Second, in an effort to support businesses faced with a liquidity shortage due to COVID-19, we are providing emergency funding of $80 billion (100 trillion won). We did this because businesses must survive in order for our people to keep their jobs, and these jobs must be secured for the economy to thrive."
The leaders of the G20 states talked about their responses to COVID-19 and provided suggestions from their respective countries. Countries such as Korea, the U.S. Italy and France are some of the countries that have been hit hardest by the pandemic.
In addition to the G20 states, Spain, Singapore, Jordan, Switzerland, Vietnam, the UAE and Senegal were given special invitations to the teleconference. Also, representatives from the international organization, such as the WHO, United Nations, the IMF and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development were also invited.
Before the G20 virtual conference, leaders from various countries have been calling Moon in the past few weeks to learn of Korea's experience with the virus and seeking the country's help.
The latest to do so was Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who called Moon Thursday morning. Trudeau said he wanted to learn about Korea's response to the contagious virus, including tests that have been conducted quickly on a large number of people, and the tracing of contacts, Cheong Wa Dae said. Moon, in response, said Korea was willing to share its data on quarantine and treatment with the international community.
U.S. President Donald Trump also called Moon Tuesday to request help with testing and quarantine-related items, according to Cheong Wa Dae. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said more than 80 countries have made similar requests. In this regard, a government taskforce will be set up this week to support the export of products related to COVID-19 management, according to a presidential aide.
The teleconference was arranged at the suggestion of Moon earlier this month, amid global attention to Korea's efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.