UPDATE : 2019.9.16 MON 11:15
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S. Korea's commerce minister allays fear over N. Korea

South Korea's commerce minister said Tuesday the nation's economic fundamentals remain sound despite North Korea's provocations, and called on foreign enterprises doing business here to increase their investments.

Paik Un-gyu, the chief of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, said in a meeting with local directors of international companies, including Boeing, 3M, IKEA, BMW and Oracle, that there is no need to be overly worried about Pyongyang's latest provocations. The policymaker then explained the new government's economic policy, the overall state of the national economy and urged foreign companies to follow their investment plans.

"South Korea's stock market has risen from earlier this year despite North Korea's nuclear test and its foreign currency market is stable with a sufficient level of reserves," Paik said during the meeting. "This is the right time to make investments in the Korean economy that is poised to take off again."

Paik Un-gyu, Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy, (4th from right), holds a meeting with representatives of foreign companies doing business in South Korea at the Grand Hyatt in Seoul on Sept. 26, 2017. (Yonhap)

The policymaker held his first meeting with foreign companies since North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3, which prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to warn of stern measures. This has caused heightened security fears on the Korean Peninsula.

The minister, in addition, encouraged foreign companies to increase employment, promising tax breaks, cash rewards and other incentives for companies that create quality jobs.

"Despite recent external and internal factors, I think South Korea is still an attractive investment option with sound economic fundamentals," Paik said.

In regard to the companies' concerns over the potential hike in the electricity prices under the government's shift from nuclear power to renewable energy, Paik said electricity prices are expected to remain at the current level in the near term.

"Electricity prices are not expected to rise over the next five years," he said. "Considering the falling production prices of renewable energy and demand management utilizing information and communication technology, electricity bills won't pose much risk (to businesses) even in the long term."

Max Kang  edt@koreapost.com

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