Moon urges swift gov’t measures to support SMEs, Gunsan disaster zone

SEOUL, President Moon Jae-in urged the government Tuesday to quickly come up with measures to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as people and businesses in Gunsan, the region hit by the planned shutdown of the GM Korea plant there.

"Recently, our economy has been showing continued signs of improvement in indicators regarding exports, industrial output, investment and consumption, but the conditions actually felt by SMEs and small business people are still very difficult," the president said in a Cabinet meeting held at his office Cheong Wa Dae.

"I ask you to swiftly move forward with the financial innovation goals that we have been pushing for, so SMEs, small business owners and new startups may actually feel a positive improvement," he added, according to Cheong Wa Dae pool reports.

The measures included the launch of a new support fund for small firms and startup businesses, as well as a ban on the use of promissory notes.

Promissory notes are often used by large businesses in supply contracts with smaller firms, and thus are said to cause liquidity problems for many small suppliers.

"Promissory notes are a means of payment between companies but have been a key source of problems for SMEs and small business owners due to the risk of delayed payment and chained defaults," Moon noted.

The president also urged efforts to develop Saemangeum -- a reclaimed area on the southwest coast that is more than four times the size of Manhattan and about 270 kilometers southwest of Seoul -- as part of efforts to help the people and businesses in nearby Gunsan.

In February, GM announced its decision to shutter its car assembly plant in Gunsan by May, dealing a blow to businesses in Gunsan, which had already suffered setback from last year's shutdown of a shipyard of Hyundai Heavy Industries.

The Gunsan plant is one of GM's four car assembly plants in South Korea.

"I ask you to help the region regain its stability and vitality in its jobs and economy at an early date by accelerating the Saemangeum development project to show them a new, visible hope," Moon said.

Separately, Minister of SMEs and Startups Hong Jong-haak vowed to foster smaller companies and to encourage conglomerates to conduct mergers and acquisitions in order to achieve the co-prosperity of firms of all sizes.

"The only path for South Korea's economy is to build global competitiveness through the cooperation of government, conglomerates and SMEs," Hong said in a meeting with reporters in the central city of Daejeon.

"I will focus on making an innovative ecosystem where SMEs and venture firms can grow into unicorns -- unlisted companies with enterprise value of US$1 billion or more -- and global business groups," he added.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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