SEOUL, Nov. 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for international efforts to strengthen the multilateral trade system based on principles set by the World Trade Organization (WTO) against growing moves toward protectionism that threaten global growth, his office said Saturday.

Moon made the remarks in a speech during a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council, in Papua New Guinea, according to the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.

"A rising tide of protectionism undermines our faith in the multilateral trade system and has become a key element causing jitters in the global economy," his office quoted him as saying. "Such unpredictability in the global trade environment poses a threat to countries that depend heavily on trade for growth and gives firms a hard time."

Moon is in the southwestern Pacific nation for the APEC summit and bilateral talks with the heads of member countries, including one with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Moon stressed the need for APEC countries to extend their efforts on coordinating to boost global trade and stave off economic uncertainties.

"We need to build an Asia-Pacific community that prospers together by fully realizing free trade and investment in the region," he added.

"The Republic of Korea deeply appreciates the meaning of free trade, as a country that has achieved economic development through it. ... Our country will continue to commit to the multilateral trade system," he said.

Moon is scheduled to return home on Sunday.

Source: Yonhap News Agency