Moon assembles business delegation to U.S.

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Moon assembles business delegation to U.S.

The business delegation joining President Moon Jae-in on his first trip to the United States at the end of this month to meet with his American counterpart, Donald Trump, is set to include a handful of executives from conglomerates and smaller enterprises.

But among them, only Chey Tae-won, chairman of SK Group, Korea’s third-largest conglomerate, will be representing a top-four company in the capacity of top decision maker, sources close to the matter said Wednesday. The notable lack of heavy hitters joining the reform-minded Moon contrasts the delegation that accompanied his business-friendly predecessor, Park Geun-hye, on her first trip to the United States in May 2013. Back then, top chairmen from a majority of Korean conglomerates participated.

This time, many companies are being represented by senior executives. Korea’s most valuable conglomerate, Samsung Group, will be represented by Yoon Boo-keun, CEO of the consumer electronics division. The group’s de facto leader, Lee Jae-yong, is currently detained on bribery charges.

Hyundai Motor Group, Korea’s second-largest company by assets, is sending Hyundai Motor President Chung Jin-haeng, though the automaker says Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun is liable to replace him.

LG Group, Korea’s fourth-largest conglomerate, has named Vice Chairman Koo Bon-joon to the delegation.

Other participants include Huh Chang-soo, the chairman of GS Group who also leads the Federation of Korean Industries, a lobbying group for big business; Cho Yang-ho, chairman of Hanjin Group; Hwang Chang-gu, chairman of KT; Kwon Oh-joon, chairman of Posco; Sohn Kyung-shik, co-chairman of CJ Group; and Park Yong-maan, chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which represents small and large enterprises.

The Moon administration has notably asked the Chamber of Commerce to take over the role of accepting applications from local enterprises to be part of the business delegation and organize the list with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. This has traditionally been the task of the Federation of Korea Industries, but the lobbying group has been put in a thorny position after its involvement in the corruption scandal that brought down President Park was revealed.

Although the federation has tried to patch things up by vowing to transform into a think tank and turning its focus to diplomacy in the international business arena, its effort does not seem to be working with the new government.

It is highly likely that the delegation will hold a roundtable with corporate leaders from the United States for potential business deals in the presence of President Moon - a routine for any presidential visit to a foreign country - on June 28, according to a chamber spokesman. The delegation was initially set to have 30 executives, but the number is expected to grow to as much as 80.


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