This meeting has been arranged to discuss countermeasures with the CEOs of leading Korean businesses amidst the grave situation facing our economy. I’m grateful to business leaders for attending this meeting on such short notice.
Speaking straight to the point, our economy is being weighed down by external difficulties in addition to internal factors. Protectionism and trade tensions between major powers are causing international trade to shrink and the global economic slowdown to deepen.
Just as this is already putting Korea’s heavily trade-dependent economy in a bind, matters have been made worse by Japan imposing export restrictions.
The Korean Government is working with extraordinary determination to persuade Japan to reverse its unwarranted curbs on exports and to prepare countermeasures.
Above all else, the Government is doing its utmost to seek a diplomatic solution. I hope that the Japanese Government will respond accordingly and, in the least, avoid choosing a path that leads to a dead end. The Japanese Government is taking steps to deal a blow to the Korean economy for political purposes and making unfounded allegations to tie its action to sanctions against North Korea. None of this is ever desirable for our two countries’ friendly relations and security cooperation.
Needless to say, it is not beneficial to the two countries’ economies. As this will surely have an adverse impact on the global economy, we will pursue international cooperation as well.
Despite our diplomatic efforts for resolution, the possibility of the situation being prolonged cannot be ruled out. Though it's a very regrettable situation, we still have to make preparations for all possibilities.
I’d like to listen attentively to what you business leaders have to say concerning how to respond to and overcome a situation like this. I hope today’s gathering will serve as an opportunity for the Government and businesses to engage in candid, heart-to-heart discussions.
In my opinion, since it's an unprecedented emergency, the most important thing is to put a public-private emergency response system in place so the Government and businesses can constantly communicate and cooperate.
To put it another way, I propose working together to come up with short-term and fundamental countermeasures by establishing a standing communication system among the CEOs of leading business groups, the Deputy Prime Minister/Minister of Economy and Finance and the Chief of Staff to the President for Policy as well as by operating a minister- and vice minister-level pan-government support system.
As a short-term countermeasure, the Government will actively support diversifying import sources and expanding domestic production to minimize the damage to local businesses.
Whenever administrative procedures such as approval and licensing are required, we’ll ensure that they are minimized and processed as fast as possible.
The Government will allocate the funds urgently needed for speedy technological development, demonstration and process testing through this supplementary budget by seeking cooperation from the National Assembly. I believe that the National Assembly, for its part, will cooperate accordingly.
As a fundamental countermeasure – regardless of how this situation ends –
we have to take this as an opportunity to reduce our reliance on overseas sources by drastically raising the rate of localization for the core technologies, key parts, materials and equipment needed by Korea’s mainstay industries.
Most of all, industrial structures that depend on specific countries must be improved without fail. The Government will greatly increase related budget allocations to nurture those industries that make parts, materials and equipment and localize them. All available resources, including tax benefits and financing, will be fully employed.
The Government cannot do this alone; businesses must play a central role. I ask for cooperation, especially from conglomerates. I hope that they’ll further expand cooperation with other companies dependent on imports by, for instance, jointly developing or purchasing parts and materials and also by collaborating more with SMEs that are trying to localize their production.
If businesses and the Government pool our strengths, we’ll be able to overcome the current hardship without fail and turn this into an opportunity to advance the Korean economy instead.
I’d like to see our meeting today give hope to an anxious public. As we’ve always done with the Korean economy, I hope that we’ll be able to join forces and turn this crisis into an opportunity.