(ATTN: ADDS more details, gov't responses in paras 2, 8-11, additional photo)
SEOUL, Feb. 14 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in ordered the government on Monday to come up with "urgent" measures in response to the political situation in Ukraine amid fears the security crisis could hurt South Korean interests.
Moon made the remark as he presided over a Cabinet-level meeting discussing strategies to cope with the external economy and security situation. The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki and 23 other senior-level officials of related ministries and state-run institutions.
"We must work thoroughly to safely evacuate our people and come up with measures in advance to minimize damage to our businesses," he said at the meeting at Cheong Wa Dae. "There is a need for urgent measures, as the political instability in Ukraine is continuing with no sign of a breakthrough."
Moon's comments come as local industries have expressed concern the instability in Ukraine could lead to a hike in energy and grain prices.
"We must support our exporters and our businesses based there from all sides and respond preemptively to supply and demand concerns with respect to energy, raw materials and grains," he said.
Moon said the Ukraine crisis has demonstrated the threat security issues can pose to global trade and stressed the importance of securing stable supply chains.
"We will have to use this supply chain crisis experienced by the entire world as an opportunity to strengthen our economy's structure and industrial competitiveness," he said, adding establishing an interagency system to oversee all supply chain issues will be key.
In a move to better brace for any contingencies, the government vowed to devise comprehensive measures based on various scenarios of how the situation unfolds.
The country will secure additional stockpiles of major raw materials, energy and other key items while at the same time expanding their domestic production and diversifying import channels in preparation for possible supply disruptions, according to the finance ministry.
The government also plans to hold meetings with companies doing business in the region to share related information swiftly and discuss joint responses while devising ways to ensure the safety of South Korean businesspersons there and to support smaller firms, it added.
"The government is working on detailed action plans to immediately respond to any circumstances so as to prevent potential adverse impacts on our economy and mitigate market volatility," the ministry said in a release.
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