The economy of KOREA - Looking Ahead to the 21st Century
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Korea has actively participated in virtually all major multilateral forums. During the Uruguay Round of trade talks, finally concluded in December 1993, Korea tried to make conrtibutions commensurate with its capabilities as a major world trading power, and play a mediating role between the developed and developing countries. Korea introduced various proposals in the Uruguay Round negotiations to reduce tariffs, eliminate non-tariff barriers, liberalize the textile trade, improve safeguards and reduce subsidies and countervailing duties.
The Republic of Korea is actively participating in global efforts to protect the environment, a crucial task facing all of humanity. In recent years it has joined the Convention on Climate Change, the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, also called the London Dumping Convention, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Korea has also begun an informal dialogue with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and has expanded participation in its various committees . Korea hopes and intends to improve its economic systems to the level of advanced countries so as to join the OECD in 1996.
One organization in which the Republic of Korea has played a particularly critical role has been the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, a forum for multilateral discussions on economic issues concerning the Asia-Pacific region.Two examples of Korea’s valuable efforts have been the “Seoul Declaration” adopted at the third APEC Ministerial Meeting hosted by the Republic which laid the foundation for the institutionalization of APEC, and its diplomatic role in bringing China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, three key regional economic powers, into the APEC fold, giving the forum a new impetus. Subsequently, the Republic played a leading role at the first APEC Leaders Economic Meeting in Seattle in November 1993, which coincided with the fifth APEC Ministerial Meeting, and was elected the chair member of the Committee on Trade and Investment (CTI).
The rise of the Korean economy over the past several decades, often called the “Miracle of the Han”, has been an inspiring model of modern economic development. The rapid pace with which the Koeran economy rose from the ashes of war and expanded stunned the outside world. However, this rapid growth was not unaccompanied by growing pains which began to manifest themselves in all sectors of society particularly during the late 1980s. Excessive wage hikes, high capital costs and an overly bureaucratic administration, not to mention institutionalized corruption, served to weaken Korea’s international competitiveness, and this was aggravated by unfavourable external circumstances. In the past year, though, strenuous efforts have been made to overcome these impediments and through this, as well as improving international economic climate, it appears that the Korean economy is regaining its former vigor. The upcoming years pose severe challenges for the Republic in light of the December 1993 conclusion of the Uruguay Round and the rise of the Asia-Pacific region as the new global economic center, but with the increasing emphasis in both the public and private sector on globalization and internalization, the Republic seems braced to meet these challenges.
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