The tale of the two Koreas should serve as a dire warning to people flirting with the populist trade protection movement.
That’s one of the key messages Trade Minister Steve Ciobo will trumpet when he heads to London on Thursday for a Commonwealth trade ministers meeting, where 52 countries will be represented.
As Britain negotiates its exit from the European Union, it’s embarking on a charm offensive with some of its former colonies to drum up trade opportunities to replace lost business.
The meeting has attracted some derision from critics in the United Kingdom, who have dubbed it ‘Empire 2.0’.
On the sidelines, Mr Ciobo is scheduled to catch up with UK International Trade Secretary Liam Fox to discuss the prospects of an Australian-British free-trade deal.
The rise in support for France’s far-right presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen, ahead of the first round of election voting later in March, is worrying free trade advocates in Europe.
Protectionism is also gaining ground in the Netherlands, which goes to the polls next week, as well as Germany, which holds elections in September.
Mr Ciobo said people dabbling in a push for protectionism should compare and contrast the plight of people on the Korean peninsula.
‘‘Obviously South Korea has opened itself up to the world, to foreign investment and has global players like Samsung ... wealth and prosperity have been generated,’’ he said.
‘‘North Korea has closed itself off to the world and is not engaging in trade.’’
Aid group CARE dubbed North Korea’s food shortages one of the most under-reported humanitarian crises of 2016.
While in London, Mr Ciobo will attend the launch of the Queen’s baton relay for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, opposition frontbencher John-Paul Langbroek and games chairman Peter Beattie will also attend.
Early next week, Mr Ciobo will head to Chile for a summit to discuss the wash-up from United States President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the controversial 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam were also a part of the TPP.
Mr Ciobo said he had spoken to many of his counterparts in the past few months and the feeling was they did not want the TPP to ‘‘slip through their fingers’’, so there was a willingness to look at viable options.
There was some speculation Australia could seek bilateral free trade deals with Mexico, Peru and Canada — TPP countries not covered by any other deals.
Mr Ciobo hinted there might be some interest and he’s taking a trade delegation to Mexico in the second half of the year.