The Korea Herald


Korea, EU leaders agree to deepen strategic partnership

By Korea Herald

Published : Nov. 3, 2011 - 16:34

    • Link copied

President Lee Myung-bak on Thursday agreed with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, to deepen the strategic partnership between Korea and the European Union during their summit talks in Cannes, France.

Lee and the EU leaders exchanged views on how to tackle the eurozone fiscal crisis, the G20 summit and bilateral relations. They also assessed in addition to assessing the immediate results of the Korea-EU free trade agreement that tentatively took effect in July, Lee’s office said in a press release.

Two-way trade between July and September increased 11.8 percent year-on-year to $25.36 billion.
President Lee Myung-bak speaks with IMF managing director Christine Lagarde at the Business Summit dinner in Cannes, France, Wednesday. (Yonhap News) President Lee Myung-bak speaks with IMF managing director Christine Lagarde at the Business Summit dinner in Cannes, France, Wednesday. (Yonhap News)

The Korea-EU summit took place before Lee’s business luncheon with other leaders of the Group of 20 economies, followed by the first session of the G20 Summit on “action plans for growth.”

At the two-day G20 summit that opened in Cannes on Thursday, Lee and other world leaders plan to discuss ways to handle the debt crisis, coordinate macroeconomic policies and reform international monetary systems.

Lee also met with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier Thursday before the Korea-EU summit.

At the Business Summit (B20) dinner on Wednesday, Lee called on global businesses to expand investment and create more jobs to rev up the economy.

“In a situation where there is little room for additional government spending due to the global fiscal crisis, companies are expected to play greater roles. The most important player in reviving and revitalizing the economy is corporations,” Lee said in a speech to about 350 chief executives at the B20 summit.

“Government-level planning is important, but the economy can actually grow when companies expand investment and increase hiring,” he said.

“In an unprecedented global crisis like today’s, I believe the entrepreneurial spirit of challenge and pursuit of creative innovation are particularly important.”

Mentioning that the world can no longer expect government stimulus packages like those that helped tide over the U.S. financial turmoil in 2008, Lee warned that the economic crisis can stir political and social instability, which would have an adverse impact on corporate management.

Lee also urged debt-ridden countries to make excruciating restructuring efforts to restore fiscal health, ascribing the quandary to their excessive welfare spending and political populism.

Lee reiterated the need for G20 countries to take coordinated steps to keep the insecurity over the fiscal crisis in Europe from dragging other economies into a prolonged recession.

Lee also promoted his trademark policy of green growth, saying that environment-friendly industries will not only help the world battle climate change, but also provide the global economy with fresh growth engines.

“Research results show that it takes about $50 trillion to reduce global greenhouse gases by 50 percent by 2050,” he said.

“But if stated reversely, this means that a massive environment-energy industry worth $50 trillion will emerge. I believe that economic growth and job creation are possible while protecting the environment at the same time.”

Lee arrived in Cannes earlier Wednesday from St. Petersburg, where he held summit talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on joint efforts to end North Korea’s nuclear program and a project to pipe Siberian natural gas to South Korea via the North.

By Kim So-hyun (