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Gov't to aggressively support corporate investment: finance minister

The government will aggressively support both inbound and outbound investments by local companies to help vitalize the economy, which has not regained its growth momentum, South Korea's finance minister said Thursday.

In a meeting of economy-related ministers in Seoul, Choi Kyung-hwan stressed that the recent visit by President Park Geun-hye to four Middle Eastern countries will open new opportunities in the construction, industrial plants, energy, health care, information technology and food sectors.

He said such developments, coupled with interest shown by foreign investors toward South Korea's free trade agreement (FTA) with China, can generate new growth for the country.

The government said some 1 trillion won (US$883 million) worth of deals were reached during the trip, while the inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) is growing as foreign companies consider using South Korea as a base to make inroads into the Chinese market.

"The government is fully committed to supporting both FDI and investment made by local companies abroad," he said, adding that to back up such claims, the government will come up with meaningful reforms that can speed up all manner of investments.

On facilitating public-private partnership projects, the official who doubles as deputy prime minister said that measures will be implemented, including the adoption of a build-operate-adjust scheme on infrastructure building that can defray risks to the private sector and allow all sides to evenly share any gains.

Public-private partnerships can generate growth and jobs, without the government pouring its limited resources into large-scale projects.

Regarding the overall state of the economy, the country's top economic policymaker said that while there are clear signs of recovery in the real estate and labor markets, lingering concerns about the future and structural issues are holding back recovery and consumer sentiment.

"Lack of confidence about the future exists among households and companies," he conceded. He said the country has to keep close tabs on the growing power of China in the global market, and the weak Japanese yen that can affect South Korean exporters.

He then repeated the government's goal of taking steps to increase household earnings and getting companies to invest their excess cash holdings, which can generate effective demand in the market and fuel spending. (Yonhap)