Send to

SK chief suggests Korean, Japanese businesses form ‘union’ to overcome global crisis

Dec. 1, 2023 - 14:50 By Jo He-rim
SK Group Chair Chey Tae-won speaks at this year's Tokyo Forum at the University of Tokyo on Thursday. (SK Supex Council)

SK Group Chair Chey Tae-won suggested that South Korean and Japanese business circles form a "union" to handle the global economic crisis triggered by geopolitical conflicts and division, speaking at a forum in Japan on Thursday.

"The era of a single global market has passed due to geopolitical conflicts, climate change and digital transformation," said Chey, who doubles as the head of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in his opening speech at the Tokyo Forum 2023 at University of Tokyo.

The annual forum jointly hosted by the Chey Institute for Advanced Studies and University of Tokyo took place over two days from Thursday.

"Let's overcome the crisis of global division by forming a Korea-Japan economic union."

The United States, European Union and China are focused on strengthening their domestic markets, and all the countries are creating rules and standards of their own, sharing them only with a number of friendly nations, Chey said, recalling his overseas trips.

Having led the private sector to support Busan's bid to host the World Expo in 2030, Chey traveled to more than 40 countries in the past year to rally votes from the member nations of the Bureau International des Expositions.

According to Chey, the combined gross domestic product of South Korea and Japan comes to about $7 trillion, and that a partnership could be a "strong drive" for future growth of the two countries.

"The two countries have strengths in semiconductors, electric vehicle batteries, pharmaceuticals and renewable energy. There are also other areas with potential for growth, such as liquefied natural gas and startup platforms," Chey said.

"By forming an economic union, Korea and Japan should transform to become 'rule setters,' rather being 'rule followers' in the global market."

The Chey Institute for Advanced Studies is an SK-affiliated think tank named after the chairman's late father, SK Group founder Chey Jong-hyun.

At the forum, Samyang Holdings Chairman Kim Yoon, who doubles as the chief of the Korea-Japan Economic Association, and Yasuhiro Sato, special advisor to Mizuho Financial Group, were among the business officials present at the forum on Thursday.