Moon tells tycoons virus woes are soon to end

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Moon tells tycoons virus woes are soon to end

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President Moon Jae-in, left, hosts a meeting with leaders of the business community at the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) in Seoul Thursday morning to ask their support for the economy. [YONHAP]

President Moon Jae-in on Thursday assured leaders of the country’s biggest companies that the coronavirus outbreak will end soon and asked for their support to boost the economy.

Moon hosted a meeting with business leaders at the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Thursday morning to discuss the outbreak’s impact on the economy.

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, Hyundai Motor Vice Chairman Yoon Yeo-chul, SK Chairman Chey Tae-won, LG Chairman Koo Kwang-mo, Lotte Vice Chairman Hwang Kag-gyu and CJ Chairman Lee Jay-hyun attended the meeting as well as leaders of five business lobbying groups including KCCI Chairman Park Yong-maan.

“[The outbreak of the coronavirus disease] will soon come to an end,” Moon told them. “Now is the time for the government and the economic community to work together to minimize the damages and put efforts into economic recovery.”

The meeting was Moon’s latest attempt to boost economic confidence. Moon visited a traditional market in Asan, South Chungcheong, on Sunday and Namdaemun Market in central Seoul on Wednesday to listen to hardships of small business owners and encourage consumption.

“Expectations were high that the economy was seeing signs of recovery, but we came to face an unexpected situation,” Moon said. “It is extremely unfortunate that the outbreak is hindering the economy.”

Moon said the government will keep the situation under control. Moon pledged support for industries directly hurt by the outbreak, such as the tourism industry. He also promised government assistance for small- and medium-sized companies and microbusiness owners.

Moon said the government will spend 100 trillion won ($84.6 billion) on projects in both the private and public sectors to improve economic conditions and create jobs. Tax exemptions and cuts were also promised to support companies’ investments and innovation.

Special measures such as financial assistance, speedy customs clearances and extensions of working hours were also promised for companies doing business with China.

At the meeting, Moon thanked the tycoons for helping business partners hurt by the outbreak. “Our conglomerates are voluntarily setting examples,” he said. “I want to express my appreciation to the conglomerates.”

Samsung and Hyundai Motor recently pledged massive management stabilization funds for their suppliers and partners. Samsung promised 2.6 trillion won and Hyundai Motor 1 trillion won. Lotte Group has contributed living necessities to Korean residents in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak.

Moon urged tycoons to not get discouraged by the outbreak and make investments as planned.

“When we are in a crisis, bold investments for the future save the economy and create a stepping stone for innovative growth,” Moon said. “Companies must trust the government and make their facilities investments without hesitation.”

It was the first time in 78 days that Moon met with top business leaders such as Samsung Vice Chairman Lee. Their last meeting took place on Nov. 27, 2019, when Moon hosted a dinner for the visiting Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

It is also the first time for Moon to meet CJ Chairman Lee since he took office.

BY SER MYO-JA, JEONG HYE-JEONG [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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