President Moon Jae-in called for all-out efforts Tuesday to innovate the very foundation of the country's manufacturing industry, saying the country may lose its global competitiveness unless it acts now.
"We have a history of industrial development that the world envies. Also this year, we demonstrated the strength of our economy by reaching US$600 billion in exports despite many difficult conditions, again becoming the world's sixth-largest export country," the president said in a meeting with officials from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
The meeting, held at the government complex in Sejong, 120 kilometers south of Seoul, was part of a series where the president is briefed by each government ministry on their policy objectives for 2019.
The trade ministry earlier said the country's total exports were expected to reach the $600 billion mark for the first time in its history.
President Moon said the country faces many new challenges.
"Right now, we are facing new challenges, such as the rapid change in global economic conditions caused by the fourth industrial revolution, the U.S.-China trade war, as well as a decline in growth potential," he said, according to pool reports.
"Leading manufacturing nations are fiercely working to further their capabilities. We can only remain a global leader when we too enhance the competitiveness of our manufacturing industry," the president added.
Moon said successfully innovating the country's manufacturing industry was also important for the success of his iconic innovation-led growth strategy.
"Our industrial development strategy aimed at promoting innovation-led growth and building an inclusive nation must be centered on innovation of the manufacturing sector. As the strength of our economy lies in the manufacturing industry, I believe continuing to do better in what we do best is the most basic economic and industrial policy," he told the meeting.
The president highlighted the need for both short-term and long-term goals.
"We must quickly implement short-term measures to help remove difficulties facing our key industries and further advance those industries, but also make a blueprint for the future of our industrial sector and push for detailed long-term plans accordingly," he said.
Moon called for painstaking efforts to change the very foundation of the industrial sector.
"Innovation means to completely change the foundation. We must make the growth engine of the Republic of Korea work again through industrial innovation that completely renews the existing industrial development strategy," he said. (yonhap)