UPDATE : 2018.10.19 FRI 15:24
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Finance minister calls for corporate support in job creation, innovative growth

South Korea's top economic policymaker on Friday asked companies to do more to create jobs and spearhead innovative growth in the latest appeal to the business community to join the government's efforts to push for a more balanced and sustainable economy.

In a meeting with Shinsegae Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin and top executives of affiliates of the business group in Hanam, just southeast of Seoul, Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon stressed the importance of cooperation between the private sector and the government to usher in innovative growth.

Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon (L) talks with Shinsegae Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin during a visit to Starfield, the country's largest shopping complex, in Hanam, east of Seoul, on June 8, 2018. (Yonhap)

In September 2016, Shinsegae Group opened the country's largest shopping complex in Hanam.

The Moon Jae-in government is preaching growth centered on innovation, which it claims will help Asia's fourth-largest economy secure potential growth and allow for sustainable expansion that can benefit everyone.

"We, as a retailer, always have a sense crisis, not only because of the uncertainties surrounding the economic environment but also because our consumers are quickly changing in keeping with the rapid growth of mobile shopping, overseas direct purchases and the increase in the number of single-person households," Chung said.

"Not only for the sake of our growth but also for the national economy, I believe that innovative growth centered on business groups is essential," he said.

The latest gathering is the fourth round of such talks between the finance minister and heads of major South Korean business conglomerates.

Kim has met with Hyundai Motor Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun, LG Group Vice Chairman Koo Bon-joon and SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won in a series of meetings to seek their support in the creation of good jobs.

Shinsegae is known to lead the innovative growth by adopting cutting-edge technology in its mainstay retail business. Recently, E-Mart Inc., a major discount chain operator under Shinsegae Group, showcased an autonomous shopping cart in a test run.

The business group is also the first major conglomerate to adopt shortened working hours ahead of Seoul enforcing a lowered maximum workweek starting July 1.

The South Korean retailer adopted the shortened workweek as of Jan. 1 to help its workers utilize their time to work more effectively. Legal work hours are set to be reduced to 52 hours per week, down from 68. The new regulations will be applied first at work sites with 300 employees or more.

The finance minister said the country's job additions may be below the 200,000 level in the first half of the year. The government aims to create 300,000 jobs this year.

"The public sector is making efforts (to create jobs), but companies are urged to offer more employment," Kim said. "In particular, the service sector should play a key role."

Between February and April, 100,000 new jobs were added, with an average of 168,000 positions created every month so far this year, spawning speculation that the government may lower its job creation target.

Meanwhile, Shinsegae plans to spend 9 trillion won (US$8.36 billion) and hire 10,000 employees annually over the next three years, according to the finance ministry.

Shinsegae has already spent a total of 2.6 trillion won annually over the past five years.

The business group also said it will provide some 600 billion won worth of financial help to its suppliers and will seek to work together with smaller retailers to achieve coprosperity, according to the ministry. (Yonhap)

Kim Jung-mi  edt@koreapost.com

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