President Park Geun-hye pitched her sales diplomacy as part of efforts to lure foreign investment in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, where an annual gathering of international political and business leaders opened on Wednesday.
The president arrived in Davos on Tuesday after a four-day state visit to Bern. Park is the second South Korean president to attend the World Economic Forum after her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, in 2010.
Her visit to Davos is aimed at building investor relations for the Korean economy by delivering a keynote speech at the forum’s first session and holding meetings with global CEOs.
At the forum, Park called for a paradigm shift to “creative economy,” stressing that the vision is key to tackling the slowing economy, unemployment and income inequality. Her vision is aimed at nurturing creative ideas from all over society, then assimilating them with ICT and science technology and other industries to eventually create new technologies, markets and jobs.
“We must make growth sustainable. We must make growth inclusive. But piecemeal fixes will not do. Macroeconomic policies or labor policies under existing paradigms alone will not do,” she said. “The only way to solve these problems is to creatively innovate our way out.”
She said creative economy could become a dynamic force for new growth because creative thinking or innovative technology presented by an individual or a business, regardless of their size, could push the world forward. Creativity, unlike resources, won’t run out or harm the environment, she added.
“This is why I believe the creative economy can offer a path to resolving the triple pressures of slow growth, high unemployment and income disparities,” Park said. “Through startups as well as the innovation of existing businesses, a creative economy can generate new engines of growth and can grow jobs.”
In her speech titled “Creative Economy and Entrepreneurship,” she also urged the power elites to join forces to cultivate the entrepreneurial spirit to effectively realize a creative economy on the global level. The speech was delivered in English.
She also said that the Korean government is seeking broad economic reform based on her “creative economy” mantra and pushing ahead with creating a “business-friendly ecosystem” to better support entrepreneurs with creative ideas and investment plans.
“To support the thriving of entrepreneurship, barriers that stand in its way must be removed. We also need to build a financial system that spreads risk; a system that helps those who fail get back up,” she said.
In a question and answer session, the president said the unification of the two Korea would be a “jackpot” not only for Koreans but also for other people in the neighboring country because it would bring in massive infrastructure projects from the North. This could revitalize investment in neighboring China and Russia.
Before wrapping her sales diplomacy in Davos, she met with CEOs of global firms including Qualcomm, Siemens and Saudi Aramco later on Wednesday afternoon to ask for more investment in Korea.
Davos was the final destination of her first overseas trip of the year. She returns on Thursday.
In a surprise move, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended Park’s speech session. His presence drew keen attention over a possible meeting of two leaders amid the deteriorating relationship between the two Asian countries. The two, however, didn‘t meet.
Seoul and Tokyo have been at odds as Japan refused to address grievances over sexual slavery and other atrocities committed during its 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula and its repeated claims to South Korea’s easternmost islets of Dokdo.
The relationship went sour after Abe paid respects late last year at a war shrine that honors Japan’s war dead, including 14 Class A criminals. Abe was the first Japanese prime minister to visit the shrine in more than seven years.
On Tuesday evening, Park attended the “Korea Night” event organized by the Federation of Korean Industries, the country’s largest business lobby group, to promote the country as an ideal destination for investment. The president said that the Korean government has made efforts to create a more business-friendly environment, citing a recent revision of foreign investment law. Park said she would continue her efforts to lift unnecessary regulations.
“(South) Korea is trying to foster an optimal business environment and is leaving its doors wide open so that global companies can make as many investments as they want,” Park said in front of 400 global business leaders attending the event.
The list of participants included John Nelson, chairman of Lloyd’s of London, Jacob Frenkel, chairman of JP Morgan Chase International, and Takahiro Mitani, chairman of Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund.
The president stressed that Korea offers a gateway for global investors as it holds a number of free trade pacts.
“I’ll look forward to working with all of you for global free trade and expand your business opportunities by freely crossing back and forth into major economic blocs through (South) Korea,” she said.
In regard to her “creative economy” vision, the president pointed out Korean rapper Psy, who was in attendance at the event and had enjoyed worldwide popularity with “Gangnam Style” after posting the music video on YouTube. “I think (Psy’s case) is a good example of creative economy as ‘Gangnam Style’ on YouTube entertained 1.8 billion people around the world, created enormous added value and contributed in the nation’s economy,” she said.
To more effectively lure foreign investment, Park met CEOs of global companies in one-on-one meetings on sidelines of her visit to Davos.
She met John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco, a U.S.-based networking equipment manufacturer, on Tuesday and discussed ways to expand cooperation with Korea, the world’s most wired country. Chambers told the president that he wants to launch a training and research center to develop the “Internet of Everything,” which refers to a world where people, devices and systems are connected with the Internet, officials said.
By Cho Chung-un and news reports
|President Park Geun-hye pitched her sales diplomacy as part of efforts to lure foreign investment in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, where an annual gathering of international political and business leaders opened on Wednesday. (Yonhap News)|