Park focuses on reviving economyPresident Park Geun-hye on Thursday hosted a meeting with leaders of five key business lobbies to discuss ways to help Korean companies already operating overseas to further expand their foothold, including making the most of a recent chain of free trade agreements (FTAs).
The meeting, attended by some 240 businessmen and government officials, comes as the president, her key aides and her brother have been embroiled in a political scandal over the past three weeks, triggered by a leaked internal Blue House report.
The investigation is currently ongoing.
In holding the meeting, President Park signaled her intention to proceed with moves to revitalize the economy, part of her key state affairs agenda as she enters her third year in office.
The president has already made clear her intention to dismiss the scandal involving her former aide Chung Yoon-hoi, who is alleged to have used his influence to meddle in state affairs matters in conjunction with three key Blue House secretaries.
On Monday when she presided over her biweekly meeting with her senior secretaries, Park did not mention the snowballing controversy, which has placed her approval ratings at an all-time low of under 40 percent.
Opening the discussion on Thursday, the president reiterated the serious state of the Korean economy, a concern she has noted several times before on other occasions.
“The prospect for the world economy is so bleak that it has given birth to a new saying - that low growth is the ‘new normal.’ And the rapid ascent of emerging economies and a weak Japanese yen are only making matters worse,” she said. “In order for our economy to thrive again, to push through such waves, we should advance into a much wider global market by strengthening the nature of our economy through a three-year economic innovation plan.”
Park went on to propose three directions in which Korean companies could “open up a Renaissance era for overseas inroads.”
First, the government should provide improved regulatory support when it comes to Korea’s FTAs - with China, Australia and Vietnam, for instance - so that domestic companies can maximize the benefits, she said.
Revising rules on defining the country of origin and further liberalizing goods will better take advantage of those FTAs, the president added.
She also vowed to install a so-called China Desk at the Korea International Trade Association, a kind of information desk for Korean firms doing business with China, before the trade agreement takes effect.
Her second proposal touched on fostering “small yet strong” companies into “global hidden champions,” wherein the government would offer financial aid and other support if those businesses aimed to merge with or acquire their foreign counterparts.
The president’s third directive involved helping to diversify the business sectors advancing abroad - from manufacturing and energy to culture.
She also vowed to help service industries embrace the Korean wave, fashion and design.
BY SEO JI-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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