South Korea’s Bahk Calls for G-20 to Address High Oil Prices

South Korea's Finance Minister Bahk Jae Wan
South Korea's Finance Minister Bahk Jae Wan. Photographer: David Rochkind/Bloomberg

South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest oil importer, urged the Group of 20 Nations to address the increase in crude prices to help keep the world economy on a recovery track.

“In our upcoming meeting, I would like to especially ask for your stronger resolve to address the problem of persistently soaring oil prices,” Finance Minister Bahk Jae Wan wrote in a letter to financial chiefs, released ahead of their Washington meeting next week. “The G-20 is an ideal group to come up with ways to stabilize the international oil markets,” he wrote.

Bahk asked the G-20 to affirm commitments oil producers made last February to continue to ensure adequate supply, and to further build on those commitments. He suggested the G-20 send a stronger message that they stand ready to take all action possible, including commitments by major member countries to release strategic oil reserves if necessary.

He also said the G-20 could develop more measures to prevent speculators from threatening the stability of the market, including regulations on commodity derivatives markets.

Rising oil prices represent one of the biggest risks to Asia’s fourth-largest economy, Bahk said this month, as South Korea imports almost all of its oil needs.

Crude for May delivery fell 81 cents on April 13 to settle at $102.83 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices slid 0.5 percent this week and have fallen 6.3 percent from $109.77 on Feb. 24, the highest level since May 3.

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