Lee asks business to help recovery

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Lee asks business to help recovery

CANNES, France - President Lee Myung-bak called on global business leaders Wednesday to expand investment and increase hiring to spur the world economy, saying government spending is limited due to the debt crisis gripping European economies.

Lee made the appeal during a meeting of about 350 top business leaders on the eve of this year’s Group of 20 Summit in the French city of Cannes, emphasizing that the world cannot expect government stimulus measures that played a key role in overcoming the 2008 financial crisis.

“In a situation where there is little room for additional government spending due to the global fiscal crisis, companies are expected to play greater roles. The most important player in reviving and revitalizing the economy is corporations,” Lee said in a speech at the meeting known as the B-20 Summit.

“Government-level planning is important, but the economy can actually grow when companies expand investment and increase hiring,” he said. “In an unprecedented global crisis like today’s, I believe the spirit of challenge and the businessmen’s spirit pursuing creative innovation is particularly important.”

Lee also urged debt-ridden countries to carry out difficult restructuring to overcome the crisis, saying that the euro zone debt problems are spilling over to the financial sector and the negative effects of instability in advanced economies are expanding to emerging markets as well.

“Now, the world economy needs a structural and fundamental solution,” Lee said. “Countries laden with national debts should carry out bone-carving restructuring efforts to restore fiscal health. Governments should try to regain trust from the civilian sector.”

Lee stressed that a crisis in one nation immediately spreads to other countries as their economies are interlinked “like a fishing net,” and he called for greater coordinated efforts by G-20 nations to overcome the crisis.

Lee arrived in Cannes earlier Wednesday for the G-20 Summit. He flew from St. Petersburg, Russia, where he held summit talks with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev about efforts to end North Korea’s nuclear program and an ambitious project to link the two countries with a gas pipeline via the North.

In the two-day G-20 Summit which opened yesterday, Lee and other world leaders plan to discuss ways to tackle the debt crisis, coordinate macroeconomic policies and reform international monetary systems, along with other issues facing the global economy.

In the speech before business leaders, Lee also called for deregulation and free trade, saying they made Korea a much better place to do business. In the World Bank’s Doing Business report, Korea was the eighth-best place to do business this year, up from 23rd place in 2008. Yonhap

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