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Moon orders plans for safe evacuation amid Ukraine crisis

Korea to establish presidential committee to manage economic security

President Moon Jae-in presides over a foreign economic security strategy meeting on Monday. (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in presides over a foreign economic security strategy meeting on Monday. (Yonhap)
President Moon Jae-in on Monday ordered government ministries to prepare for the safe evacuation of Koreans in Ukraine, and draw up measures to mitigate damages to Korean companies, citing the threat of a looming Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“We need to implement what we can do right away and prepare closely for the worst,” Moon said, presiding over an external economic security strategy meeting. “In case of emergency, it is necessary to make every effort to evacuate and withdraw the Korean people and devise measures to minimize damage to our companies in advance.”

The government has recently banned travel to Ukraine and is evacuating Korean residents staying in the nation. Among the 281 Korean residents there, about 100 of them will be first evacuated by Tuesday.

Companies are also withdrawing their employees as a precaution. Currently, Korean companies in Ukraine include Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Hyundai, Posco International, Hankook Tire and Ecovice.

The Russian military has amassed troops at Ukraine’s border in recent weeks, sparking fears that Russia could invade its neighbor, despite repeated denials from Moscow.

Moon urged ministries to take steps to ensure the domestic economy and financial markets would be shielded from any possible fallout, as well as establish countermeasures against potential risks.

“We need to proactively respond to all-round support for exporters and local companies and instability in supply and demand of energy, raw material and grain,” Moon said.

Domestic automobile, aviation and petrochemical industries are closely watching the situation as the incident could put pressure on transportation and distribution costs when energy prices soar. Russia is the world’s No. 1 natural gas exporter to major crude oil producers. Due to geopolitical instability and soaring demand, international oil prices have already surpassed $90 a barrel, hitting a seven-year high.

In response to growing supply chain uncertainties and technological hegemony between major countries, Moon said Korea would establish a presidential committee to manage economic security and a monetary fund.

“Economic security is a key topic in the rapidly changing international economic order,” Moon said. “Now, the economy and security cannot be thought of separately, and economic security is national security and national competitiveness.”

It is time to establish a more advanced and comprehensive system to respond to the ever-deepening supply chain risks, Moon said.

“As a control tower, the Presidential Economic Security Supply Chain Management Committee will be established and a supply chain stabilization fund will be introduced for financial support,” Moon said. “Institutional grounds for designating economic security items and operating an early warning system should be prepared.”

“The enactment of the Framework Act on Supply Chain Management for Economic Security has become very urgent,” he said, adding that the legislation spans everything from high-tech industries to general products.

The external economic security strategy meeting is the first time that the president has presided over the meeting since it was established in October last year. The meeting is a minister-level consultative body to closely examine pending issues that require comprehensive consideration of economy and security, such as global supply chain disruptions and inflation.

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)
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