SEOUL, April 9 (Yonhap) -- The arms procurement agency said Thursday it held an emergency meeting with CEOs of major local defense companies to listen to their difficulties caused by the coronavirus and discuss diverse supportive measures.
The Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) proposed the establishment of a pan-government employment committee for those hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and adjusting terms of contract for government-led defense projects, according to its officials.
The agency also vowed to prioritize indigenous defense items when it plans to develop or purchase defense-related equipment, they added.
"Active support by the government is urgent, as the expected mid- to longer-term economic slowdown is forecast to affect the industry, including sales and investment," Na Sang-woong, a vice chief of the Korea Defense Industry Association, said.
He also called for the overall improvement of the country's arms procurement system, pointing to huge spending on the introduction of weapons from overseas.
The expenditure has been on a constant rise for the past several years from 2.5 trillion won (US$2.05 billion) in 2014 to 3.6 trillion won in 2016 and 4.3 trillion won in 2018, according to government data.
"We will continue to devise practical measures to support the arms industry, through which we can further boost their competitiveness and create more jobs in the sector," DAPA chief Wang Jeong-hong said.
The meeting was attended by top executives of 15 defense firms, including Hanwha, Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. and LIG Nex1 Co., as well as officials from related institutions, according to DAPA.
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