Cisco Invests 2 Billion in Korean ITJohn Chambers, Chairman & CEO of Cisco, met President Lee Myung-bak on April 14. He said at the meeting in Cheong Wa Dae: “According to my company's plan, US$2 billion will be spent over five years in building a research center in Korea.” He outlined other specifics, especially that the US$500 million will be spent in investment and loans for South Korean IT and communications venture companies.
He showed his interest in green growth which is a Korean national project, and environmentally-friendly urban facilities. Cisco's huge investment in Korea is good news for the Korean government. President Lee thanked Chambers for his decision in this difficult time. His choice may encourage other firms to invest in Korea.
Cisco has already chosen Songdo, Incheon, to invest about US$1 billion to build its Asia-Pacific research headquarters. The company has agreed to help develop the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ). The IFEZ is an area of reclaimed land three times larger than Manhattan. Cisco will construct the U-City Global Center in Songdo, to explore new business fields for the company.
Lee Points to Economy Pickup and Urges Efficient Energy Use
In a cabinet meeting Tuesday, April 14, President Lee said that signs of the national economy's recovery are showing. He added that now is the right time to come up with a national plan to raise energy efficiency.
Energy efficiency should not be disregarded any more, as it lies at the center of the government's Green Growth strategy, he said.
He reminded the cabinet about the need to study the highly-efficient energy plan of Japan, which has put a lot of effort into the field since the 1970s.
He also called on officials to devise a plan to reduce food waste, which will help to advance the nation's food culture, he said.
President Lee said that special measures should be taken to quell social unrest. He said this in reference to the recent prevalence of private money lenders who seek to seize opportunities in difficult economic times.
The President requested the Ministry of Justice and the Financial Services Commission to pay keen attention to these matters.
Cycling Shows Slow Beauty of Nature
“These times require green life innovation, and reinventing carbon-free bicycles as a main means of transportation is our given task,” President Lee said in his biweekly radio address on April 20.
Bicycles fall down when they move too slowly, and likewise we should prepare for a bicycle era before it gets too late, the President said.
“By 2012 when the restoration of the four rivers is complete, bike paths totaling a length of 2,000 kilometers will be set up. Somebody living in Mokpo [in South Jeolla Province] will be able to reach Seoul by bicycle. Another person living in Seoul can reach Busan [South Gyeongsang Province] via the Han and Nakdong Rivers,” he said.
He regretted that Korea currently imports over 2 million bicycles from China, the Netherlands and Canada, and suggested the country develop core technologies for bicycle manufacturing.
Instead of falling down, bicycles go straight ahead when their riders pedal fast, Lee said. “I hope everyone will have a great start to the week with hope-filled pedaling,” he added.
Emergency Economic Council Moves to Support Shipping Industry
President Lee held a weekly emergency economic council meeting on April 23 with the focus this time on streamlining the country's shipping industry.
At the 15th of a series of emergency economic council meetings begun about 100 days ago to discuss measures to help the local economy in the global economic downturn, President Lee and government officials agreed on measures to bolster the domestic shipping industry.
For one, the government will establish a fund worth some 4 trillion won (US$3 billion) to purchase about 100 vessels from struggling shipping companies, to start probably in June, in order to keep the companies from selling their ships at dirtcheap prices to overseas companies as part of restructuring efforts.
The envisioned fund will be collected from the state-run debt clearer Korea Asset Management Corporation, credit banks and private investors, as well as the government.
In addition, the government will expand credit lines to boost sales of ships being constructed by cash-strapped shipyards.
Also at the meeting, President Lee praised the emergency economic council for doing a good job in coordinating economic policies and for effectively executing budgetary spending.
Invest 6.5 Trillion Won in Green Technologies
By 2012, the smart grid will be spread to Korea.
Investment in Green R&D will be doubled for four years, and recruit thirty thousand workers who are in charge of the R&D field.
The presidential green growth committee has set a roadmap. According to the roadmap, the government will raise Green technology from 50 percent of the world class level to 80 percent; and increase the value of the Green industry market, domestic demand market, and export market to US$110 billion.
The investment amount of the Green technology R&D field was just 1.4 trillion won (US$1.04 billion) in 2008, but it will be enlarged to 2 trillion won (US$1.48 billion) annually until 2012. The total investment is over 6.4 trillion won (US$4.74 billion).
President Lee and IT Leaders' Meeting
President Lee held a meeting about IT on April 22. Before the meeting there was a rumor that the president neglected the IT field, because when he reorganized the government, the ministry which traditionally took responsibility for the IT sector disappeared.
An official from Cheong Wa Dae said: “The president has had interest in the IT field since his tenure started, but until now the situation didn't allow him to meet IT leaders. The rumor isn't true.”
Cheong Wa Dae is going to make a new position - a secretary who is in full charge of the IT sector - like other sectors have. Also the president was listening to 25 IT leaders including Park Ji-young, President of Com2uS; Bae Hee-suk, Chairman of the Korea Venture Business Women's Association; Seo Seung-mo, Chairman of the Korea Venture Industry Association; and others.
A participant said: “The president was listening carefully to every one of us, and kept insisting on the importance of the IT field.”