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'Salesman' Yoon meets global CEOs

President Yoon Suk Yeol, who visits Switzerland to attend the Davos Forum, greets IBM CEO Arvind Krishna at a luncheon held at a hotel in Davos on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
President Yoon Suk Yeol, who visits Switzerland to attend the Davos Forum, greets IBM CEO Arvind Krishna at a luncheon held at a hotel in Davos on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

DAVOS, Switzerland -- On the second day of President Yoon Suk Yeol's visit to Switzerland, a day before attending the World Economic Forum, he had a lunch meeting with CEOs from global companies to discuss Korea’s competitiveness and investment environment.

The Wednesday luncheon was attended by the heads of six major Korean companies -- Samsung, SK, Hyundai, LG, Lotte and Hanwha. Fifteen CEOs from foreign companies, including Intel, IBM, Qualcomm, Shell, JP Morgan, Mubadala Investment Co., Blackstone and Hitachi, also attended.

President Yoon told guests he arranged the lunch because he felt a sense of duty as "Korea's No. 1 salesman" to meet global entrepreneurs.

"To solve the recent complex crisis, solidarity and cooperation between the state and businesses are more urgent than ever,” Yoon said.

“Companies will be able to solve global problems through technological innovation while pursuing sustainable growth based on creativity, innovation and a spirit of challenge.”

At the luncheon, Yoon thanked IBM CEO Arvind Krishna, saying, “IBM helped a lot in the early computer and digital industries." Krishna replied, “IBM and Samsung are cooperating a lot.”

Hanwha Vice Chairman Kim Dong-kwan introduced TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanne to Yoon, explaining that their firms were involved in a solar power joint venture.

The government also needs to support the market to operate reasonably and efficiently in order to promote technological innovation in the private sector, he added.

Korea Night

Later, he held a “Korea Night” event at a hotel to promote the bid for the 2030 Busan Expo, inviting foreign political and business figures.

The event was attended by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, Cisco Chairman Chuck Robbins, New York Times Chairman Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, Grab CEO Anthony Tan and McKinsey & Co. CEO Bob Sternfels.

In his opening remarks, Yoon introduced Busan as “an international industrial and cultural convergence city” with the world's second-largest hub port and where Asia's largest international film festival is held every year.

"We will promote the ‘Busan Initiative,' a customized international cooperation program based on the needs of each country, utilizing the characteristics of Busan," he said.

Yoon also vowed to make efforts to solve common problems of humanity.

"The Davos Forum is a place to seek insights and solutions to common problems of humanity through global networking," Yoon said.

“Currently, we are facing challenges that cannot be resolved through the efforts of one country alone,” he said, referring to complex crises and uncertainties in the global economy, geopolitical conflicts, the climate crisis, and polarization.

He pledged that the Korean government, along with private companies, would actively participate in international efforts to solve common problems of humanity and play a responsible role.

By Shin Ji-hye (