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Chaebol leaders pledge support for SMEs

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President Yoon Suk-yeol, center, poses with businesspeople making handprints symbolizing win-win growth, during the Korea Federation of SMEs' (KBIZ) annual convention held in front of the presidential office in Seoul, Wednesday. From left are Sam Heung Heat Treatment CEO Joo Bo-won, LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo, Korea Venture Business Association President Kang Sam-kwon, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, KBIZ Chairman Kim Ki-mun, Yoon, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, Korean Women Entrepreneurs Association President Lee Jeong-han, Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Euisun, Korea Federation of Micro Enterprise Chairwoman Oh Se-hee and Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin. Yonhap
President Yoon Suk-yeol, center, poses with businesspeople making handprints symbolizing win-win growth, during the Korea Federation of SMEs' (KBIZ) annual convention held in front of the presidential office in Seoul, Wednesday. From left are Sam Heung Heat Treatment CEO Joo Bo-won, LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo, Korea Venture Business Association President Kang Sam-kwon, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, KBIZ Chairman Kim Ki-mun, Yoon, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, Korean Women Entrepreneurs Association President Lee Jeong-han, Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Euisun, Korea Federation of Micro Enterprise Chairwoman Oh Se-hee and Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin. Yonhap

By Park Jae-hyuk

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Euisun, LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo and Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin promised Wednesday that they will support small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) here to prosper together with them.

The chiefs of the nation's five largest conglomerates made the pledge at the Korea Federation of SMEs' (KBIZ) annual convention held in front of the presidential office in Seoul's Yongsan District, on the occasion of the federation's 60th anniversary.

The chaebol leaders also made handprints with President Yoon Suk-yeol and the heads of the country's four lobby groups for SMEs ― KBIZ, the Korean Women Entrepreneurs Association, the Korea Federation of Micro Enterprise and the Korea Venture Business Association ― to symbolize win-win growth.

After the ceremony, the business leaders attended a dinner with the president, the finance minister, the SMEs minister and the presidential secretaries, so that the top government officials could listen to complaints and proposals from businesspeople.

Yoon praised SMEs for being a pillar of the Korean economy, despite multiple challenges and crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, global supply chain disruptions and climate change.

"An extra budget bill, which includes 26.3 trillion won ($20 billion) to support small businesses and self-employed people, was submitted to the National Assembly," the president said. "The government will compensate (pandemic-hit) small businesses immediately after the Assembly passes the extra budget bill."

He added that the government will increase tax benefits for SME's R&D investments, for them to start new businesses as their future growth engines.

Participants applaud for President Yoon Suk-yeol's speech during the Korea Federation of SMEs' annual convention held in front of the presidential office in Seoul, Wednesday. Yonhap
Participants applaud for President Yoon Suk-yeol's speech during the Korea Federation of SMEs' annual convention held in front of the presidential office in Seoul, Wednesday. Yonhap

The KBIZ convention was the first large-size event held at the new presidential office.

It was also the first time in six years for the annual event to be held at the presidential office.

During the administrations of Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye between 2009 and 2016, the annual convention had been held at Cheong Wa Dae.

Former President Moon Jae-in, however, only attended the event in 2019, when it was held at the KBIZ's headquarters on Yeouido.

The presidential office said it invited the conglomerate leaders and 520 representatives from SMEs to show the Yoon administration's willingness to step closer to people and its economic policy prioritizing the private sector.

"I am pleased to visit the new presidential office for the first time," said one of the representatives of the SMEs participating in the event, according to the presidential office.

Another SME official at the event was quoted as saying that it was first time for him to see the president from such a close distance and to have in-depth conversations with ministers, even though he had participated in previous conventions.

The KBIZ has previously held the convention during the third week of May, which is designated "SMEs Week" under the Framework Act on Small and Medium Enterprises.

However, it decided to delay the event, considering Yoon's summit with U.S. President Joe Biden.


Park Jae-hyuk pjh@koreatimes.co.kr


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