Moon touts Samsung, NHN, Hyundai Motor in Paris

President Moon Jae-in poses with Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Sung Yun-mo, right, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, fourth from left, NHN’s chief investment officer Lee Jae-jin, third from left, and other dignitaries during the France-Korea Business Leaders Summit at the Westin Paris-Vendome, central Paris, Tuesday (KST). / Yonhap

By Kim Yoo-chulPARIS — The government will continue to encourage leading Korean technology companies to invest in France because of its “open collaboration and open attitude” to foreign investment, President Moon Jae-in said Tuesday (KST).

The President was speaking at the “France-Korea Business Leaders Summit” held at the Westin Paris-Vendome in central Paris.

“My administration will continue to encourage our companies to commit to France. Seoul plans to expand overall bilateral trade volume as seen by the increase in the types of products traded between the two countries through this year. Aerospace parts, cosmetics, startups and eco-friendly vehicles are industries where two countries’ business groups have mutual interests,” President Moon said at the start of the meeting.

He said the home of world leading technology firms such as Samsung has a specific interest in artificial intelligence (AI), fuel cell technology and obtaining know-how on startup ecosystems.

“NHN, Korea’s dominant web portal, has created funding aimed at investing in French startups. Samsung Electronics built its brand-new AI research center in Paris; while Hyundai Motor signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to supply fuel cell vehicles to and expand its partnership with French companies. Seoul will support them and explore opportunities to elevate partnerships in emerging business sectors,” Moon said.

French President Emmanuel Macron is hoping to make France a “startup nation” by providing assistance to private companies and offering incentives to foreign firms.

According to data from global consultancy Ernst and Young, innovative companies raised about two billion euros ($2.36 billion) in the first half of this year in France, compared to 2.6 billion euros for all of 2017. France is catching up with the United Kingdom, the region’s leader, which attracted 3 billion euros in venture capital over the same period.

Macron plans to reduce taxes, including those on foreign investment, as he sets out to persuade investors that France will have a big enough pool of “unicorns,” or closely held startups, valued at more than $1 billion in 2019.

President Moon said his government will support Korean venture firms seeking to enter France.

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