Export firms receive shot in the arm

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Export firms receive shot in the arm

President Lee Myung-bak yesterday called for financial institutions to provide greater support for export firms as he presided over the first session of emergency economic policy meetings that were revived to cope with growing uncertainties in the global economy.

“At a difficult time, it is important for financial institutions to support business activities,” Lee said during the meeting with top economic policymakers and heads of major financial institutions, according to presidential spokesman Park Jeong-ha.

“Financial institutions, including banks, should support export and business activities in order for us to win in the global market. I hope financial institutions will think about their unique roles. Then it will be helpful for us to overcome the crisis,” he said.

The appeal suggests that Lee believes exports are the main means of breaking through increased uncertainty as Europe’s debt crisis shakes the world economy, and that financial institutions should put the national economy ahead of their interests in a time of crisis.

The meeting marked the revival of emergency economic policy talks that Lee presided over in an effort to lead Korea out of the 2008 global financial crisis. The government decided to revive the meetings as concerns about the global economy have escalated.

Between 2009 and last year, Lee and top economic policymakers met in an underground bunker at the Blue House once every two weeks to discuss ways of surmounting the 2008 global financial meltdown triggered by the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis.

Once Korea got itself back on track, the emergency sessions were changed last year to meetings on policies for mid- and low-income families under Lee’s drive to break away from his pro-business image and pay more attention to social welfare.

In recent months, fiscal debt woes in Europe and a stagnating recovery in major economies have raised concerns over a double-dip recession worldwide. Korea’s financial market is also going through greater volatility, raising concern that it could face a crisis similar to that experienced in 2008.

Lee has stressed that Korea’s economy is strong enough to overcome a new crisis, with its national debt at a low level and exports remaining brisk. The president has asked citizens to have confidence in their economies, describing excessive concern as an exercise in futility.

During yesterday’s meeting, Lee also called for greater attention to smaller firms, lower-income households and other socially underprivileged groups.


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