Go Search Go Contents Go to bottom site map

(2nd LD) Moon strives to build trust with business leaders during 2nd round of talks

2017/07/28 21:55

Article View Option

(ATTN: ADDS more info in paras 10-14)

SEOUL, July 28 (Yonhap) -- From praising a tech giant's record second-quarter profits to encouraging an ailing shipbuilder and quipping about a tycoon's tennis skills, President Moon Jae-in strived Friday to build rapport with top business leaders.

During the second round of dinner talks at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, Moon met with the top officials of seven local conglomerates -- Samsung, SK, Lotte, GS, Hyundai Heavy Industries, KT Corp. and Korean Air Lines Co.

The meeting came as the liberal president seeks to elicit their support for his five-year economic agenda that includes creating new "quality" jobs, turning irregular workers into regular employees and raising incomes for laborers.

The first round of talks Thursday was attended by the executives from seven business groups -- Hyundai Motor, LG, POSCO, Hanwha, Shinsegae, Doosan and CJ, along with the head of Ottogi, a leading but comparatively small food company.

"I don't have any particular words to propose a toast.... I hope that you all keep staying healthy and your businesses will fare well," Moon told the businessmen holding glasses of "beer cocktails" mixed with tomatoes or grapes.

President Moon Jae-in (L) speaks with business leaders during a dinner gathering at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on July 28, 2017. (Yonhap) President Moon Jae-in (L) speaks with business leaders during a dinner gathering at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on July 28, 2017. (Yonhap)

The mood appeared heavier than that of the first gathering as some of the business groups such as Samsung, SK and Lotte were involved in a massive corruption scandal that led to the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye.

In particular, Samsung's de facto leader Lee Jae-yong has been in jail pending a trial on charges of giving or promising bribes to Park's close friend Choi Soon-sil as kickbacks in return for the government helping him secure control of the group through a merger of two key units.

The talks, which lasted for two hours and 11 minutes, 28 minutes shorter than the first round, came after the government announced its economic policy direction Tuesday to achieve "people-centered, inclusive, income-led growth."

   They also took place against the backdrop of growing unease among business circles over the ruling camp seeking to raise the minimum wage and the tax rate for top-earning businesses, and make a shift away from nuclear power, which experts warn could lead to a hefty rise in industrial electricity prices.

Mindful of their concerns, Moon portrayed the government as their "companion" while urging them to share its economic philosophy.

"I ask you to work together to achieve the goals (of the government's economic policy)," Moon was quoted by his spokesman as saying.

"Enterprises contribute to the economy through their business activities, while the government is their companion that helps their economic activities," he added.

Moon also noted businesses' concerns that the new government's policy could impose a burden on them. But he stressed that there would be "no other way" than the current policy formula to revitalize Asia's fourth-largest economy.

"It is not that only our government is doing this ... It is in line with global trends," he said.

During the gathering, Moon took steps to build friendships with business leaders with pep talks.

"Samsung Electronics has posted record earnings, and been making large-scale investments in semiconductor lines and displays," Moon said, referring to the tech giant's second-quarter net profit which rose to 11 trillion won (US$9.8 billion, up from 5.8 trillion won posted a year earlier,

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Kwon Oh-hyun said in response, "As we should get better, we will try hard."

   Touching on SK Chairman Chey Tae-won's book on social enterprises, the president asked him about the group's investment activities.

Chey replied that his conglomerate has invested at least 50 billion won annually in social enterprises.

"We have been making our investments in creating jobs for the past 10 years ... and I hope that I can have some time later to explain our efforts in detail," Chey said.

Moon also offered words of encouragement to Hyundai Heavy Industries Chairman Choi Kil-seon while referring to the industrywide slump.

"I understand that as the industry isn't doing good, you might have been taking great pains (to overcome challenges)," Moon told Choi. "Why don't we clap our hands to encourage the shipbuilding industry?"

   Choi voiced frustration that many workers at local shipbuilding firms have lost their jobs due to the protracted slump and financial challenges facing each firm.

President Moon Jae-in (6th from R) makes a toast with business leaders during a dinner gathering at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on July 28, 2017. (Yonhap) President Moon Jae-in (6th from R) makes a toast with business leaders during a dinner gathering at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on July 28, 2017. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr

(END)

angloinfo.com