I have invited all of you as representatives of the business community at a time when our economy is struggling due to the COVID-19 outbreak. High expectations were forming as the economy seemed to pick up, but we ran into unforeseen circumstances. I’d like to share our thoughts on how to overcome this challenging situation.
Thank you all for coming. I hope that today’s meeting will serve as an opportunity to help revive economic vitality and bring confidence to businesses and the people.
Recently, our companies have become the hope of the people by constantly taking on new challenges and pursuing innovations.
The Academy Awards have honored the CJ-financed “Parasite” with Oscars in four categories, including Best Picture. It is a splendid feat that once again shows the world the excellence of Hallyu culture.
LG Electronics’ “Rollable TV” received the Best of Innovation Award in the Video Displays category at the 2020 International Consumer Electronics Show while Samsung Electronics, which has introduced the AI robot “Ballie” and the “Neon” project to develop an artificial human, is at the forefront of commercializing artificial intelligence. Hyundai Motor Company has also attracted global attention with its urban aviation mobility technology.
SK is spearheading concrete changes to attain self-sufficiency in the supply of materials – for which it was once entirely dependent on imports – by completing hydrogen fluoride gas, blank mask and fluoride polyimide plants.
The business community’s efforts are translating into economic recovery.
Facility investments have begun to rise since the fourth quarter of last year, and the composite leading indicator has registered its biggest gain in a decade. In January, the value of average daily exports finally rebounded with positive growth, and the number of inbound foreign tourists increased significantly, raising expectations for an era of 20 million visitors a year.
Employment indicators have also improved beyond expectations. With the number of newly-established entities and the amount of investment in new business ventures having both reached record highs, a virtuous cycle between startups and job creation has also become conspicuous. At this juncture, it is truly regrettable to see the COVID-19 outbreak put a strain on the economy. Fortunately, quarantine control seems to have entered a stable stage to some extent domestically, even though we still have to remain alert over the possibility of the inflow of the virus from other countries. The COVID-19 outbreak will be over soon because our quarantine authorities are doing their best and will never let up until the end.
Now is the time for the Government and business community to pull together in order to minimize the damage from the COVID-19 outbreak and make efforts to revive the economic recovery. One good example is how the Government and businesses had close consultations with Chinese authorities and managed to move up the date operations were resumed at auto parts factories there.
The Government will actively support business activities and protect the people’s safety, for instance, by providing necessary financial assistance, encouraging speedy customs clearances, approving a special extension of the maximum 52-hour workweek and quickly certifying substitute products.
We will provide proactive support for industries such as tourism that have been directly hit by the COVID-19 outbreak and for SMEs and microbusiness owners going through hardships.
Recently, the nation’s large corporations have been setting an example by seeking mutual benefit together with their suppliers. Large business groups such as Samsung and Hyundai Motor decided to immediately offer trillions of won worth of management stability funds, providing considerable support for their suppliers. Lotte Group enthusiastically offered daily necessities to Korean nationals living in Wuhan, and it also made contributions to the Red Cross Society of China, enhancing a sense of amity between the peoples of our two countries. I am very grateful to large companies for taking initiatives that have also made us feel more reassured.
The Government as well plans to expand financial assistance for SMEs and microbusiness owners and minimize damage, for instance, by extending the deadline for tax payment. It will also soon devise measures to preempt the expected damage to different industries such as airlines, shipping, transportation and tourism.
Whenever difficulties have arisen, future-oriented bold investment has revived the economy and created the foundation for innovative growth.
The Government will protect the safety of the people and businesses without fail. I hope that businesses will put their faith in the Government and proceed with the facility investments that they had planned before the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Government will also strive to revive the economy and create jobs by identifying opportunities totaling 100 trillion won in private- and public-sector projects and private investment in infrastructure. It will implement bold tax cuts, provide special exemptions from regulations and strengthen assistance for securing business locations, thereby actively assisting corporate investment and innovation.
I hope that today’s meeting will be a rewarding opportunity for the business community and Government to pool our wisdom with regard to the type of measures and efforts needed to minimize damage from COVID-19 and quickly revive the economic recovery.