Minister of the Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire, President of MEDEF International Frédéric Sanchez, Korea International Trade Association Chairman Kim Young-ju, and business leaders from both countries, I am pleased to meet you all.
Thank you for inviting me to this event to facilitate exchanges between the business leaders of our two countries.
It is very meaningful for me to make a state visit to France the first leg of my European tour.
The spirit of the French Revolution characterized by liberty, equality and fraternity transcended time and space and pervaded the candlelight revolution that lit Gwanghwamun Plaza.
Paris is the city most loved by people around the world. Quaint buildings well blended along the Seine are like a piece of artwork. The steps of cultured Parisians diffuse freedom and prosperity.
The Social Contract by Jean-Jacques Rousseau has become the foundation for modern democracy. Such French inventions as the steamboat, helicopter, dry cell battery and inflatable tire led the development of relevant industries. It was the French who created the modern Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup, two festivals for humanity.
I send my respect to the people of France who greatly contributed to the advancement of humanity with generosity and tolerance.
Distinguished business leaders of both countries,
Over the past 130 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, France has been Korea’s good friend who provided a great boost in times of difficulties.
During the Japanese colonial rule, the League of Friends of Korea in Paris launched a drive to collect a million signatures on a petition calling for Korea’s independence. It was in the former French concession in China where the Provisional Government Shanghai based its headquarters. France sent 3,400 troops to fight in the Korean War. We will never forget their noble sacrifices.
France has also stood by Korea’s economic development. In the 1970s, Korea became the first Asian country to order planes from France-based Airbus, laying the groundwork for its aviation industry. In the 1980s, the country built a nuclear power plant with French technology. In the 1990s, Korea took France’s TGV as its model for high-speed trains. Now our two countries’ cooperation in the aerospace sector has led to the joint development of satellites. Korea has still a lot to learn from France.
Our two countries are jointly developing technology by playing off each other’s strengths in cutting-edge fields such as autonomous driving cars and information and communication technology. Koreans use Renault cars and L’Oreal cosmetics while the French use hydrogen-powered taxies made by Hundai Motor Company and Sulwhasoo cosmetics.
The number of people travelling back and forth between our two countries reached 510,000 last year. About 16,000 Koreans now live in France, including approximately 7,000 students, and many young French people enjoy K-pop and Korean cuisine.
The expanding economic cooperation and people-to-people exchanges are drawing France and Korea closer.
Distinguished business leaders from both nations,
Yesterday, President Macron and I agreed to deepen and further develop a comprehensive partnership for the 21st century between France and the Republic of Korea in a forward-looking manner.
Today, I am going to speak with you about three directions for economic cooperation between our two countries.
First, bilateral trade and investment have to be drastically expanded.
In the first half of this year, trade between our two countries increased to a great extent after having faltered so far. Trade items have been diversified to include eco-friendly vehicles, aircraft parts and cosmetics, and what is especially meaningful is the fact that both countries' imports and exports have risen together.
There are many more areas in which our two countries can increase trade and investment.
Naver, a Korean web portal, has recently raised funds to invest in French startups. Samsung Electronics founded an artificial intelligence research center in Paris. Today, Hyundai Motor Company of Korea and Air Liquide SA of France will sign a memorandum of understanding on hydrogen-related cooperation and the supply of hydrogen-powered cars.
The Korea International Trade Association and the Movement of the Enterprises of France agreed to join forces to support the advancement of Korean and French businesses into each other’s country. This agreement will serve as a new milestone in promoting businesses entering each other’s market.
Utilizing regular dialogue channels between the economic ministers of Korea and France, the Korean Government will help expand bilateral trade and investment as well as actively support you business leaders.
Second, cooperation in future industries needs to be promoted to prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Both France and Korea are making pan-government efforts to respond to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. From 2013, France has initiated the La French Tech program. With an aim to foster new industries, Korea newly established the Presidential Committee on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Bilateral cooperation in new industries is coming to fruition through the Korea-France Joint Forum for Innovative Industry, which was launched in 2014.
Renault S.A. and a team of Korean researchers are jointly developing autonomous driving technology for low-speed, congested traffic. The technology will be applied to electric vehicles beginning in 2020. A big data platform linking hospital- and home-care medical treatment that was co-developed by Korean and French firms has already successfully entered commercialization. LG Electronics and France-based Levisys are expected to jointly enter the seawater desalination facility certification business in Vietnam.
MOUs on a science and technology cooperation roadmap and fintech will be signed soon between the two Administrations. They will be an asset for technological cooperation and a bridgehead to a new market for the financial industry.
Third, bilateral cooperation on fostering startups will be strengthened.
Starting new innovative businesses vitalizes the economy and constitutes the best way to provide decent jobs to young people.
Around 10,000 companies, including Facebook and Microsoft, moved into Station F, a startup campus in France opened last year. Korea also launched the Ministry of SMEs and Startups and has been making every effort to create a startup-friendly ecology. If our two countries combine strengths, we will be able to make even greater achievements.
The Korea-France Startup Summit in which over 60 startups from our two countries took part was held yesterday. The Small and Medium Business Corporation of Korea and Station F signed an agreement to support startups from both countries.
I hope that the number of startups will further increase in our two countries and more startups will enter each other’s market through the joint operation of startup programs and exchanges between these companies.
Distinguished business leaders from Korea and France,
France is the center of politics, the economy and culture in Europe and Korea is a foothold in Northeast Asia. Our markets are clearly attractive to each other. If peace is established on the Korean Peninsula, Korea will become an even better investment destination.
I speak with confidence that this is the most optimal moment to advance Korea-France economic cooperation.
Our two countries uphold democracy, hold respect for humanity and do not fear changes. I am certain that if our two countries come together, we will be able to usher in an inclusive and more prosperous era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
I hope that you business leaders will take the initiative. The Korean Government will also assist exchanges and cooperation among you with all its might.