The Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), a lobby group for South Korea’s conglomerates, will hold a business council meeting in Washington DC in the United States in October, resuming its role as the representative of Korea Inc. after it has faced the biggest challenge since its foundation for its involvement in the influence-peddling scandal of former President Park Geun-hye and her close friend Choi soon-sill.
According to a senior official from the business circle on Tuesday, the FKI is planning to hold its annual meeting of the business council from October 10 to 11 in the U.S. under the leadership of Cho Yang-ho, Korean head of the joint council and chairman of Hanjin Group.
The Korea-U.S. business council was founded in 1988 by the FKI and the American Chamber of Commerce to strengthen bilateral economic ties. The council has been regarded as the highest privately run economic cooperation channel between Korea and the U.S.
The council meeting would be the KFI’s first major overseas event jointly held by its foreign counterpart since the nation’s largest chaebol lobby group last year came under fire for arranging corporate donations for organizations run by former president Park’s friend Choi. Some of Korean top chaebols, including Samsung and Hyundai Motor, withdrew from the group following the corruption scandal that led to Park’s ouster.
The Korea-U.S. business council meeting is expected to play a key role in recovering the FKI’s reputation seriously tainted by the scandal, an official from the business circle said, adding that the meeting would allow the group to resume its role as a representative diplomatic channel in the new Moon Jae-in Administration.
For the upcoming meeting, business leaders representing both countries are expected to mainly discuss issues of the U.S. Trump Administration’s trade protectionism, possible renegotiation of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and cooperation in promoting new growth engines. The meeting is expected to be attended by high-profile business figures from the two countries including Paul Jacobs, American head of the council and chairman of Qualcomm, U.S. telecommunications giant.
The last year’s meeting held at the FKI headquarters in Seoul was attended by about 70 business leaders and government officials from the two countries, including Cho, Jacobs, Korean trade minister Joo Hyun-hwan, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs Kim Hong-kyun, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert and commander of U.S. Forces Korea Vincent Brooks.
By Kim Jung-hwan
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