Trade Minister
for the Republic of Korea


YOO MYUNG-HEE's profile image


Candidate for WTO Director-General




As the first female Trade Minister for the Republic of Korea, Yoo Myung-Hee has been an innovator, negotiator, strategist and pioneer in her 25 year career in trade.
She has devoted her career to progress in the multilateral trade arena from the early days in 1995 when she took charge of WTO affairs in the Korean Ministry of Trade Industry and Energy, through her role as Korea’s key FTA strategist to, more recently, negotiator of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP),
the Korea-China FTA and the critical Korea-US (KORUS) FTA renegotiation, among other trade initiatives

Multilateral Fora

• As Trade Minister, she offered insights and engaged with other Trade Ministers around the world on the future direction of the WTO and stressed the importance of timely responses to emerging issues in various fora, such as the G20, WTO and APEC meetings.

• As Trade Minister, she quickly engaged with like-minded partners in taking international action to maintain the flow of trade in essential goods, services and people during the health and economic crises resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, she led the efforts to develop the May 2020 joint ministerial declaration of Korea, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore and Chile that reaffirmed commitments to cross-border trade during the pandemic.

Regional and Bilateral
Trade Agreements

• As Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-Hee played a key role in the conclusion of text-based negotiations for RCEP in 2019, providing viable alternatives to find common ground among participating countries with varying levels of development.

• As Trade Minister, she concluded the Korea-UK FTA in 2019, taking into consideration various Brexit scenarios in the agreement. She also concluded the Korea-Indonesia CEPA that featured a strong chapter on cooperation.

• As Chief Negotiator for Korea, she concluded the revision of the KORUS FTA in 2018. She was also the lead in services and competition negotiations in the initial negotiations for the KORUS FTA from 2006 to 2007.

• As Chief Negotiator for Korea, she finalized the Korea -China FTA negotiations in 2014, to bring it into effect in 2015.

• In addition, throughout her career, Yoo Myung-Hee has led numerous Korean bilateral FTA negotiations, including with the EU, ASEAN, India and Singapore, in areas ranging from goods, services, investment, trade remedies, rules of origin and customs procedures.

Trade Policy Initiatives

• As Trade Minister, she reset Korea’s trade policy direction to respond to changes in the international trade environment caused by COVID-19. In the “Post COVID-19 Trade Policy” introduced in June 2020, she emphasized international cooperation and rule-setting in particular in light of the advance of the digital economy and the importance of helping businesses adapt to changes in the global value chain.

• As the first director of the newly established FTA Policy Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, she designed the fundamentals of Korea’s FTA strategy in 2005 to complement the multilateral trade system. As Deputy Trade Minister, in 2018, she redesigned Korea’s FTA policy to incorporate renewed goals of sustainable and inclusive growth, tailoring each agreement to enhance cooperation and mutual growth through trade.