Now is not the time for trade fights and petty division, but the time for global coordination.
These are the words of former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in an exclusive hour-long interview with Arirang TV's Moon Conn-young.
"What I am concerned at this time, frankly speaking is that the leaders are not united, the multilateralism is on the threat and people are trying to do it their own way."
Reflecting on the increased use of trade policies as a means of political action and retaliation, most recently, Japan's imposition of crushing export curbs on South Korea, Ban stressed the need for diplomatic solutions.
"My advice at this time, is that there is no other way but to resolve this through diplomatic negotiation. You may have the freedom of choosing your friends, or even your spouse. But you don’t have any choice when it comes to geographically neighboring countries."
Seoul has repeatedly invited Tokyo to hold talks aimed at resolving the matter, and raised the issue at the WTO, as Japan's export measures run counter to the organization's provisions on global trade.
Many global observers, including Ban, fear Tokyo's actions are part of a worrying trend of world leaders backing out of multilateral agreements.
Ban says U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, while declaring global warming is a hoax, is a prime example of that.
"I am deeply concerned. Even I felt the anger when President Trump decided to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. It was only possible because China, number one GHG emitting country and United States were united and they were leading this campaign. What President Trump was saying is first of all, wrong, economically irresponsible, and politically short-sighted."
In a time when many societies face critical threats, from poverty and inequality to climate change and environmental degradation, Ban stressed the need for all countries to band together for the common good.
The hour-long interview with former Secretary General Ban will air in full on Arirang TV on August eighth, 7:30AM Korea time.
Oh Soo-young, Arirang News.