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Cheong Wa Dae accepts conglomerates' call for policy steps against virus

All News 16:28 February 19, 2020

SEOUL, Feb. 19 (Yonhap) -- Cheong Wa Dae announced a set of policy measures Wednesday to help South Korea's major conglomerates cope with the unrelenting spread of the coronavirus, accepting "all" demands made by their chiefs during a meeting with President Moon Jae-in less than a week earlier.

"(We) are fully accepting all suggestions from the business circle related to the COVID-19 (response)," Yoon Jae-kwan, deputy spokesman for the presidential office, said at a press briefing.

He was referring to policy recommendations delivered during Moon's roundtable session with the leaders of six major South Korean conglomerates last Thursday -- Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, LG Group Chairman Koo Gwang-mo, CJ Group Chairman Lee Jae-hyun, Hyundai Motor Vice Chairman Yoon Yeo-chul and Lotte Group Vice Chairman Hwang Kag-gyu.

The government intended to respond quickly to corporate calls to deal with the emergency situation, Yoon said.

"(We) hope that firms have trust in the government and carry out their investments as planned before the COVID-19 outbreak," he said.

This file photo shows President Moon Jae-in (front, 3rd from L) holding a meeting with leaders of South Korea's conglomerates at the headquarters of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Seoul on Feb. 13, 2020.

At the request of Hyundai, for instance, the government has decided to ease the tariff burden on imports of core materials. Tariffs on air freight will be on par with those on ocean cargo, which would drastically reduce such costs, according to Yoon.

The transport ministry plans to approve the expansion of cargo flights from China in response to a formal request from SK for emergency supplies of memory chip parts.

On CJ's call for additional support for the content-production field, the government is scheduled to reveal specific measures for the game industry in March, the music business in June and the animation sector in September.

Moon will also deliver an official message of encouragement for South Korean company workers and their families staying in China no later than the end of March, per a Samsung proposal.

The government will redouble efforts to nudge the National Assembly to pass a bill on the resilient application of the 52-hour workweek system in order to ease the burden on management, Yoon said.

Cheong Wa Dae's move apparently reflects its determination to minimize the economic effects of the pandemic in close cooperation with businesses here.


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