Jan 21, 2014

President Park to present creative economy in Davos

President Park Geun-hye on Wednesday will present her vision of “creative economy” to political and business leaders attending the annual World Economic Forum at the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

President Park Geun-hye meets global CEOs including John Nelson , chairman of Lloyd's of London, and Jacob Frenkel , chairman of JPMorgan Chase International, and Korean singer Psy at Korea Night in Davos on Tuesday.

In her keynote speech which would open the first session of the forum, Park is expected to introduce the Korean government’s economic reform strategy based on her mantra of “creative economy.” Her vision is aimed at nurturing creative ideas from all over society, assimilating them with ICT and science technology and other industries to eventually create new technologies, markets and jobs.

She has previously said that creative economy could become a solution for emerging problems such as the deepening income inequality, slowing economic growth and rising youth unemployment. She is expected to urge the power elites at the forum to join forces to cultivate the entrepreneurial spirit to effectively realize a creative economy on the global level.

On Tuesday, Park traveled to Davos from Bern where she held a summit with her Swiss counterpart Didier Burkhalter. She was the first South Korean president to go on a state visit to the European country after the two sides forged diplomatic ties in 1963. In Davos, she attended “Korea Night,” a business event organized by the Federation of Korean Industries in the resort town, and met CEOs of global companies and investment firms including GE, JP Morgan, Barclays Capital and Morgan Stanley. The president highlighted Korea’s economic and business environment to lure investments from foreign firms. She will wrap up her sales diplomacy later on Wednesday evening by meeting CEOs of global companies including Cisco, Siemens, Qualcomm and Aramco in separate sessions.

Switzerland was the second leg of her first overseas trip this year. Before Switzerland, Park was in India to lay the groundwork for wider business access to the world’s second-most populous country. Davos was her last destination of the trip. She returns to Seoul on Thursday.

Leaders of South Korea and Switzerland agreed on Monday to share the Swiss experience of nurturing a highly skilled labor force and jointly develop vocational training courses to systematically cultivate human talents.

“President Burkhalter and I shared an understanding that developing excellent skills is a key engine for the ‘creative economy’ and agreed to build a cooperative system in the area of vocational education,” Park said during a joint news conference after the summit.

The two sides signed 11 memorandums of understanding, including agreements on training in Switzerland every year for 20 Koreans who have graduated from vocational high schools and are employed by Swiss companies.

The agreement on vocational training offers rare opportunities for Korea as Switzerland seldom opens its education programs to foreign countries, according to officials. As part of efforts to jointly develop job-related curriculums, the Korea Institute for the Advancement of Technology and the Swiss mechanical and electrical engineering industries, or Swissmem, signed an MOU to expand cooperation.

Despite its relatively small population and lack of natural resources, Switzerland has been often picked as one of the most competitive nations in the world, with per capita income nearing $80,000. Park believes that the highly skilled labor force has served as the backbone of the European country’s competitiveness.

Before leaving the Swiss capital, she visited a vocational training school to observe how classes are operated to nurture craftsmen and skilled workers -- highly respected labor groups in society even without a college diploma.

The two sides also signed agreements to expand ties on science, technology, energy, finance and other sectors.

“The two sides also shared an understanding that there is big potential for cooperation if the original technologies and basic science of Switzerland are combined with our industrial technologies,” Park said.

During the summit, the two leaders also agreed to urge North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

“The two countries agreed it is important for the international community to make united efforts if we are going to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear program,” Park said. Burkhalter also vowed to support South Korea in its efforts to maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Park also noted the importance of creating an environment in which North Korea has no option but to voluntarily self-reform.

“If not North Korea changes voluntarily, we must create an environment where it cannot help but change,” Park was quoted as saying by Ju Chul-ki, the senior presidential foreign affairs secretary. She told Burkhalter that it is difficult to sense any “sincerity” in Pyongyang’s offer to end slanderous remarks and military drills.

When asked by the Swiss president about the fate of the Demilitarized Zone, Park said the buffer zone would eventually be gone in the future. The South Korean president also expressed her hopes to turn the DMZ into a peace park.