President Moon Jae-in on Monday urged business and labor circles to join efforts to forge a grand social consensus to ensure the country's sustainable and inclusive growth.
"Reaching a social consensus on economic and labor policies is not an easy task, but one we must achieve," Moon said while meeting with his top aides at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.
The president noted that Asia's fourth-largest economy was expected to grow 3 percent this year, thanks partly to the 11 trillion-won ($9.78 billion) supplementary budget his new administration devised.
Last week, the Bank of Korea said the country's gross domestic product is estimated to have expanded 1.4 percent in the July-September period from three months earlier, marking the highest on-quarter growth in seven years.
"I believe it is the result of each and every economic player, including companies and laborers, doing their best, while I believe it also partly reflects the consistent economic policy of the government," the president said, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.
He insisted the country must continue to move in that direction to ensure future growth, but that it is also time to discuss ways to make sure the benefits of the growth will reach the furthest corners.
"What is important now is to improve the quality of our growth rather than its quantity. The benefits of the growth will reach households and a sustainable growth will be possible when the growth will lead to new jobs and a rise in consumption," the president said. "And to ensure such a change in our economic paradigm, a social discussion, involving the labor, management and government, is a must."
Moon said his call went out to "each and every economic player." However, it was apparently directed at the laborers as it followed his recent meeting with key labor leaders last week, which was boycotted by the leaders of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, the smaller of the two umbrella labor unions here.
Moon said a refusal to talk may lead to the loss of all.
"Should the market system fail due to worsening polarization or a decline in domestic spending, the firms will be the first to suffer, and once the firms suffer or are forced to take their operations overseas, the laborers will be the ones to suffer the most serious damage," the president said.
"I once again ask each economic player, including the business and labor communities, to actively take part in the social discussions on changing our economic paradigm and addressing our structural problems. I wish to emphasize that the nation and its economy will develop while firms and workers will both grow when we all concede, share our burden and narrow the gap," he added.
The president also stressed the need to involve nonunion workers in the discussions, noting they accounted for nearly 90 percent of the entire workforce. (Yonhap)