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Park calls for bigger biz partnership with Italy

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : Oct. 15, 2014 - 20:45

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MILAN -- President Park Geun-hye on Wednesday urged businessmen and authorities from South Korea and Italy to expand bilateral cooperation, so that the two countries could together attain new global business opportunities through strengthening partnership.

Highlighting Italy‘s role in leading industrial innovation and also Korea’s advanced IT technology and manufacturing capability, Park said the two nations could produce outstanding business outcomes if they work together.

“If the two nations could collaborate with each other‘s strength through industrial and technological cooperation, creative ideas could become manufactured goods targeting global markets,” Park said at a forum in Milan, cohosted by businessmen from Italy and South Korea.

The president also brought up a case of industrial cooperation currently under discussion between two nations on integrating IT technology in next-generation automobiles. Such cases will benefit both countries in the future, she added.

The forum was her first official event in Italy. Later in the afternoon, Park attended a meeting with Korean residents in Italy and thanked them for their dedication to promoting their mother country in the European country. Park arrived in the Italian industrial city on Tuesday evening to attend the 10th Asia-Europe Meeting summit.

President Park Geun-hye speaks at an economic forum cohosted by Korean and Italian businessmen in Milan, Italy, on Wednesday. (Yonhap) President Park Geun-hye speaks at an economic forum cohosted by Korean and Italian businessmen in Milan, Italy, on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

The South Korean president also presented her vision of a creative economy, which she believes could become a new growth engine and create more jobs in the future. Park urged representatives to share ideas on such economic reforms and seek a new growth engine together.

“I hope to have a new opportunity to help the two nations promote an economic take-off by establishing creative economy partnership,” she said during a meeting with Korean residents.

The creative economy is Park’s core economic strategy, one that she has been pushing to implement in Asia’s fourth-largest economy as part of efforts to stimulate its sluggish growth. The vision is aimed at nurturing creative ideas from across society, and assimilating them with ICT, science and technology and other industries to eventually create new technology and jobs.

Park is currently in Italy as the country hosts the biennial ASEM meeting this week. More than 40 business representatives accompanied her to seek partnership with their counterparts in Italy. The list includes Huh Chang-soo, chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries, Hyun Jeong-eun, chairwoman of Hyundai Group and Skott Ahn, president of LG Electronics.

At the ASEM summit, leaders are expected to open dialogues to enhance “connectivity” between Asia and Europe on economic cooperation and global matters.

On the sidelines of the Summit, Park plans to hold three separate meetings with French President Francois Hollande, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

After the ASEM, Park will visit Rome to hold a summit with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to discuss ways to seek strategic partnerships in a wide range of fields including the economy, culture, and science and technology.

Park’s government believes that expanding cooperation with Italy could benefit small and medium-sized companies in Korea. SMEs in Italy comprise 99 percent of the country’s industrial forces. Most have less than 250 employees but together they produce 65 percent of the country’s exports and account for 80 percent of the country’s jobs.

The Korean government is reportedly considering entering new markets in Africa and the Middle East jointly with Italy by combining Korea’s information technology with Italy’s global fashion brands.

During the envisioned summit, leaders of South Korea and Italy on Friday are expected to sign a number of MOUs to expand economic cooperation.

The two nations are among the top 10 exporters in the world. Korea is the eighth-largest trading nation, followed by Italy. But the trade volume between the two countries is relatively low, standing at $6.5 billion as of August this year. Among Korea’s export destinations, Italy ranks 29th.

By Cho Chung-un, Korea Herald correspondent
(christory@heraldcorp.com)