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South Korean President Park Geun-hye appealed to Asia-Pacific business leaders Sunday to aggressively pursue innovation, saying it is the only fundamental way to inject vitality into the slumping global economy.
Park made the appeal during a keynote speech at a meeting of Pacific-Rim business leaders, known as the APEC CEO summit, right after arriving in Indonesia's resort island of Bali for this year's meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
She stressed that the lack of innovation is causing a delay in the global economic recovery.
"The only source for sustainable growth of the world economy is innovation," she said. "Economic stimulus measures that each country implemented after the global crisis may play the role of CPR, but they cannot fundamentally cure sore points and bring vitality."
As an example of innovation, Park outlined her trademark "creative economy" policy that calls for boosting South Korea's economy by creating unheard of business opportunities and more jobs through the fusion of information technology, culture and other industries.
She cited South Korean rapper Psy's immensely popular "Gangnam Style" as a good example of the "creative economy" vision, saying the viral song created high added value as it was combined with the video-sharing website YouTube.
"When compared with the existing economy, the creative economy has two large distinctions," Park said. "Under the existing economy (paradigm), we moved the economy forward by mining mineral resources, but the creative economy (paradigm) calls for developing the economy by extracting creativity from people."
As conditions for realizing a creative economy, Park called for lifting unnecessary regulations, lowering financing barriers for venture firms, reforming education systems and lowering institutional and other barriers hampering exchanges between countries.
On Monday and Tuesday, Park is scheduled to attend the main APEC meeting, where she plans to call for international cooperation to make progress in long-stalled world trade talks known as the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), put forward ways to increase connectivity among member economies and make a commitment to sustainable growth.
In particular, this year's meeting comes as South Korea is looking into the possibility of taking part in regional free trade negotiations among Asia-Pacific nations, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Officials said the issue could come up during the APEC summit.
APEC was formed in 1989 in response to growing regionalism in other parts of the globe. Its 21 member economies account for about 40 percent of the world's population, 58 percent of global gross domestic product and 49 percent of world trade.
The forum is run by consensus, rather than binding agreements.
Since 1993, the heads of state from member countries have met annually. At the end of their summit, they usually pose for group photos dressed in the host country's traditional clothes.
The summit has provided opportunities for bilateral talks among leaders on its margins.
Park also plans to hold a series of one-on-one meetings with other leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping. A summit with U.S. President Barack Obama won't take place, as Obama decided against attending the APEC summit due to the government shutdown crisis back home, officials said.
Bali is the first of three tops in Park's two-nation trip to Southeast Asia that she has termed as a second "sales diplomacy" trip aimed at boosting South Korea's economic and business interests.
Last month, she made a similar business-oriented visit to Vietnam during which the two countries agreed to conclude bilateral free trade talks next year and cooperate closely in Vietnam's plan to build nuclear power plants.
On Tuesday, Park will fly to Brunei for a trio of annual meetings: a summit with the 10-member ASEAN nations; a meeting between ASEAN and its three Northeast Asian dialogue partners South Korea, China and Japan; and a meeting of the East Asia Summit (EAS) forum.
Park plans to use the summit with ASEAN, set for Wednesday, to express her commitment to bolstering economic and other cooperation with one of the world's fastest-growing regions and to build personal bonds with the leaders, officials said.
ASEAN has emerged as an increasingly important region to South Korea, with a combined population of 600 million and its GDP totaling about US$2.3 trillion. The region is South Korea's No. 1 investment destination and its second-largest trade partner, with two-way trade amounting to $131 billion last year.
The region is also the second-largest construction market for South Korea, with last year's construction orders from the region totaling $11 billion.
On Thursday, Park will fly back to Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, for a three-day state visit that includes summit talks with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono mainly about increasing economic cooperation with the world's fourth most populated nation, which is rich in energy and resources.
South Korea and Indonesia have drawn much closer to each other in recent years, with two-way trade volume doubling to nearly $30 billion last year from just $14.9 billion in 2007.
Indonesia is the biggest Southeast Asian buyer for South Korea's defense industry. In 2011, the country awarded two massive contracts to South Korea, one of them to purchase submarines and the other to purchase T-50 Golden Eagle supersonic trainer jets.
Source: Yonhap News (Oct. 6, 2013)