Lee expresses confidence in coping with looming global crisis
President Lee Myung-bak said Thursday he is confident Korea can cope well with a looming global economic crisis stemming from the eurozone financial turmoil, as the country has made enough preparations to ward off such a situation.
"The government won't let its guard down even a bit while closely monitoring developments in the world economic situation," Lee said in a speech during a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency.
Lee also offered condolences to the eight Koreans killed in a helicopter crash in Peru -- all of them businessmen returning from a trip to a potential site for a hydropower plant -- saying sacrifices of such people helped make South Korea one of the largest trading powers in the world.
"The achievement of $1 trillion in trade was the fruit of blood, sweat and efforts of businessmen and workers," Lee said. "Beyond the 1 trillion dollars in trade, we have to open up an era of $2 trillion in trade based on this DNA of success."
Though conglomerates took the lead in achieving the landmark trade feat, Lee said that small- and medium-sized enterprises should play greater roles and work together with large firms if the country is to break the $2 trillion mark.
Lee also said Korea was able to join the so-called "20-50 club" of countries with a per capita national income of more than $20,000 and a population of more than 50 million as the country has "opened its doors wide" and promoted trade with other nations.
"We are the only nation that forged free trade agreements with the world's three largest economic blocs, which are the United States, the 27 countries of the European Union and the 10 countries of ASEAN" (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Lee said.