Chief Exec Meets Biz Tycoons

President Lee promises relaxed business regulations, gets 95 tln won investment commitment

President Lee Myung-bak got the business community to pledge to invest some 95 trillion won in facilities and other business activities this year.
The nation's chief executive told the leaders of the 30 largest conglomerates in the country that the more difficult business becomes, the harder they must work by expanding their investment and creating jobs.
During the "first government and private sector meeting to invigorate investment and create jobs,"President Lee continued that the business community should be able to overcome the worsening business cycle worldwide with the support of the government.
Present at the meeting included heads of the five business organizations and large conglomerates including chairmen of the four largest conglomerates led by Chairman Chung Mong-koo of Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, Chairman Koo Bon-moo of LG Group, Chairman Chey Tae-won of SK Group, and Chairman Lee Soo-bin of Samsung Life Insurance Co., representing Samsung Group, the largest business group in the country.
Chairman Cho Seok-rae of the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) told the President that the 30 largest conglomerates in the country plan to invest 95 trillion won this year based on the FKI's survey, up 26 percent over last year.
President Lee, in response, promised that the government will complete the revising or removing of government regulations that hinder business activities by the end of this year.
The government has decided to hold such a meeting once every quarter from now on with the next meeting scheduled for July.
The business leaders hoped that the government would work toward an early parliamentary approval of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement and the snuffing out of anti-business sentiment around the country. Chairman Lee of Samsung Life said the government should help ease such sentiment across the country, along with the private business community.
Samsung Group alone has set aside 27.8 trillion won for capital expenditure this year. Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo said at the meeting that the group would invest 11 trillion won for its steel and auto business facilities. He said the investment will also go toward the development of hybrid cars and the support of its suppliers'technology development programs.
President Lee has been sparing much of his time for various activities designed to prod business investment in the country including foreign investment.
During his tour of the United States and Japan, he met with U.S. business leaders at the Plaza Hotel in New York on April 16 to attract U.S. investment to Korea.
The president himself explained the advantages for U.S. companies to invest in Korea in front of some 40 local business leaders at the meeting. The meeting was the first one hosted jointly by the government and the private business community in Korea with KOTRA and the Federation of Korean Industries as supporters. The new government led by President Lee wanted to let the U.S. business community know its economic guidelines and publicize Korea's brand as a market country to boost trust among foreign investors and create an environment conducive for foreigners to make investments in Korea.
The U.S. business leaders at the meeting with the theme "Global Korea: Gateway to Asia,"included top executives of Boeing, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and ProLogis to name just a few.
Following the meeting, five U.S. companies signed MOUs worth $11.8 billion with their Korean counterparts. ProLogis signed an MOU worth $1 billion to participate in the projects to build logistics complexes in Korea; Kozar signed an MOU to invest in real estate development projects worth $1.4 billion; Electronic Arts signed an MOU to invest $200 million in a game studio; Mattson signed an MOU to invest $100 million in semiconductor equipment; and Mataldyne signed an MOU to invest $100 million in the production of vehicle balance shafts.
Minister Lee Youn-ho of the Knowledge and Economy Ministry followed President Lee's keynote speech at the New York meeting with his own speech entitled "The New Korea Inc,"which summed up the key purpose of the meeting. The minister explained the drastic changes in the foreign investment climate to lure capital to Korea.
Lee said Korea has an open economy that is already an important part of the global economy, telling the U.S. business leaders that the new government is pro-business and is more than willing to improve the foreign investment climate.
The minister, formerly a vice chairman of the FKI, an association of private businesses in Korea, pointed out a number of advantages for investing in Korea, such as the country being a gateway to Asia, its solid domestic market, and excellent local manpower and very good opportunities for investment in such areas as IT and R&D activities.
On the return trip from the United States, President Lee and his entourage stopped off in Tokyo on April 21 for an official visit. President Lee held a summit meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda and called on Japanese Emperor Akihito at his residence in Tokyo.
Minister Lee took time out to attend the Korea Investment forum at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo on April 21, attended by some 300 Japanese business leaders.
Minister Lee explained in his speech the pro-business policies of the new Lee Myung-bak government and the value of Korea as a brand to win the trust of local investors and create a better investment climate for them.
Five Japanese companies signed MOUs totaling some $5.9 billion to invest in Korea following the meeting.
Asahi Glass signed an MOU to invest $1.5 billion to build a plant to produce LCD and glass panels; Sonix signed an MOU to invest $2.7 billion in a plant to produce solar batteries; Temuzak signed an MOU to invest $300 million to invest in a robotics plant; Mitsubishi signed an MOU to invest in a joint-venture high-tech chemical material plant with Honam Petrochemical; and JO Hotel signed an MOU to invest $1 billion to build and operate a hotel in Bundang, Gyeonggi Province.
Minister Lee stressed that Japanese business investment in Korea would be a good opportunity to utilize Korea's application ability of Japanese technologies, manufacturing capacity, and the Korean needs for parts and materials to produce complete products. The minister also told Japanese business leaders that the government is in the process of easing regulations so that foreign firms can have easier access to land to build plants in Korea, adding that the government will go as far as setting up a special industrial complex for Japanese parts makers.
He also told the Japanese business leaders that the government will try to raise the collaboration between Korean and Japanese business firms to a new level in the international business arena by forging tie-ups in the exploration of energy and natural resources and in the markets related to environmental issues to open a new era in business cooperation between the two close neighbors. nw

President Lee Myung-bak, 1st R, meets with heads of 30 largest conglomerates in the country April 28 at Cheong Wa Dae, the presidential residence to urge the business community to increase investments this year. To his right are Chairman of Samsung Group Lee Soo-bin, Chairman of Kumho-Asiana Group Park Sam-koo, Chairman Chey Tae-won of SK Group, Chairman Chung Mong-koo of Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, and Chairman Koo Bon-moo of LG Group.

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