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Conglomerates Welcome Biz-Friendly Pres. Lee

Posted February. 26, 2008 03:21,   


Major business groups are showing high expectations for the new government, posting newspaper ads welcoming Lee Myung-bak’s inauguration as president.

External dangers including price hikes for oil and raw materials and economic uncertainty resulting from the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis have dealt a serious blow to the business environment at home and abroad.

So in Korea, major economic organizations and businessmen say they feel quite relieved over the new administration’s market- and business-friendly approach. They also asked Lee to efficiently deal with mounting economic difficulties.

Many in the private sector say the president’s belief in the urgency of economic revival and improvement of efficiency by downsizing the government and expanding the market bigger will lead to economic growth.

○ Inauguration of an “economy” president

Experts say the warm welcome for Lee from big business is relatively new to Korea. An executive of a large corporation said, “Unlike in the past, Korean businessmen are giving a big welcome to the new president from the bottom of their hearts. Since he is familiar with business, he will no longer allow politics to prey on corporations and the economy.”

The Samsung Group, Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group, SK Group and LG Group all ran ads welcoming Lee’s inauguration in major dailies.

LG’s ad consisted of an illustration based on the theme of love with the message, “I love Mr. President. I hope you will make Korea brimming with love.”

Hyundai hung a banner welcoming the new president on its headquarters in downtown Seoul, which can be seen from the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae. This is something which the group did not do when Roh Moo-hyun was inaugurated in 2003. At the time, Hyundai was suspected of illegally sending money to North Korea.

KT, the nation’s largest fixed-line operator, also installed a placard honoring Lee saying, “You are the very one who will create a new Korea full of hope,” on its headquarters in central Seoul.

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won held a festival Saturday to pray for the prosperity of the nation and happiness of the people.

The Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday held a concert “praying for the success of the Korean people” to celebrate Lee’s inauguration at Seoul Arts Center.

○ Helping the people succeed

With high expectations for the new government, corporations have rushed to apply the president’s messages delivered in his inauguration speech to their business lines.

A Hyundai spokesman said, “The people have high expectations for the new government. We will help the people to succeed by doing our best to boost investment and create more jobs.”

To advance the country, SK is considering how to develop projects to contribute to social welfare. An SK source said, “In the wake of the financial crisis, we have focused on how to overcome crisis. Since we have turned ourselves into a holding company, we will proactively respond to the new government’s economic policies, increase investment and adopt a more aggressive management approach while developing our social contribution programs.”

The Kumho Asiana Group said, “We have higher expectations for the era of the business-friendly president since expanding our business volume via aggressive M&As. We have increased our recruitment plans from 2,200 to 2,600 workers. We’ll closely cooperate with the new government’s economic policies.”

The Hanwha Group said, “As you can see in [Lee’s] inauguration speech, the challenge facing Korea is advancement. For this to happen, Hanwha will take the lead in the nation’s efforts to globalize and make an all-out effort to boost investment and create more jobs.”

Workers, meanwhile, asked that the new government’s policies not be lopsided in that they should not focus merely on business activities or ask workers to make sacrifices.