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Chaebol chiefs meet with French president

Collaboration on energy, future mobility, health care top agenda at presidential meeting

By Park Han-na

Published : June 22, 2023 - 15:42

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Chiefs of South Korea's eight conglomerates pose with French President Emmanuel Macron (center) at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Wednesday. From left: Hanwha Group Vice Chairman Kim Dong-kwan, Hyundai Motor Executive Chair Chung Euisun, LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo, Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, Poongsan Group Chairman Ryu Jin, Hyosung Group Vice Chairman Cho Hyun-sang and Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Won-tae. (The Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry) Chiefs of South Korea's eight conglomerates pose with French President Emmanuel Macron (center) at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Wednesday. From left: Hanwha Group Vice Chairman Kim Dong-kwan, Hyundai Motor Executive Chair Chung Euisun, LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo, Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, Poongsan Group Chairman Ryu Jin, Hyosung Group Vice Chairman Cho Hyun-sang and Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Won-tae. (The Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry)

Korean business tycoons met with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss their cooperation in strategic industry projects including energy and next-generation transportation, a business lobby group Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry said Thursday.

At the meeting held at the Elysee Palace in Paris with heads of Korea's top eight conglomerates on Wednesday, President Macron presented the economic and social reform policies that France is pursuing to strengthen the country’s investment attractiveness, and investment plans in future strategic industries such as energy, future transportation, health care and biotechnology.

Among the attendees from Korea are Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong; SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, who doubles as chairman of the KCCI; Hyundai Motor Executive Chair Chung Euisun; LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo; Hanwha Group Vice Chairman Kim Dong-kwan; Poongsan Group Chairman Ryu Jin; Hyosung Group Vice Chairman Cho Hyun-sang; and Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Won-tae.

The KCCI’s Vice President Lee Seong-woo said he expected the meeting to serve as an opportunity for Korean companies to more actively enter and invest in France with the support of the French government.

“Since taking office in 2017, President Macron has consistently promoted business-friendly policies such as corporate tax cuts and streamlining administrative procedures,” Lee said, adding that Korea invested a total of $4.1 billion in France through more than 550 investment projects over the past five years.

The business leaders' trip to France was to participate in the general assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions, the international body in charge of overseeing the World Expo, as part of a campaign to promote South Korea's bid to host the event in the southern port city of Busan in 2030.

Earlier during the day, the KCCI jointly held a business roundtable with the Movement of the Enterprises of France (MEDEF) International, a major French business federation.

The roundtable was attended by 30 top businesspeople and government officials from the two countries including executives of Kia, Lotte Group, Posco International and SK Telecom. From the French business circle, executives from Air Liquide and HTL Biotechnology took part.

At the Korea-France roundtable, in-depth discussions were held on mid- to long-term cooperation plans between the companies of the two countries, with a focus on cooperation in the energy and technology sectors, according to the KCCI.

Stressing the volume of trade between the two countries, which hit a record high last year and 137 years of partnership in economy, diplomacy and culture, KCCI Executive Vice Chairman Woo Tae-hee said the collaborative efforts will be expanded further.

“The next-generation industries that France is strategically fostering, along with the semiconductor, battery and bio industries under its investment plan called ‘France 2030,’ are areas where Korean companies have strengths,” he said during the event.

The KCCI and MEDEF International signed a memorandum of understanding on the occasion of this business round table, and agreed to expand mutual cooperation, including exchanges in the economic and industrial fields of the two countries, and to serve as a communication channel to bridge firms.

The business delegation accompanied South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who delivered a speech during Korea's presentation for Busan's bid to host the 2030 World Expo at the general assembly of the BIE in Paris on Tuesday.

His speech was a part of candidate countries' fourth presentation, which will play a decisive role in the selection of a host country for the Expo. The vote, set to take place in November, sees Busan up against the Saudi capital of Riyadh and the Italian capital of Rome.