Park urges pre-emptive measures against economic slowdown

SEOUL, May 9 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye called on the government and business community Friday to take pre-emptive measures to prevent the economy from slowing down amid falling consumption and investment levels due in part to the Sewol ferry disaster.

Park made the remarks during an emergency meeting with economic ministers and business representatives, saying low consumer confidence could negatively affect the economic recovery momentum.

"To ensure that the economy's recovery trend is not shaken, there must be no carelessness in efforts to pre-emptively supplement the economy," she said during the meeting at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae. "Domestic demand, such as private consumption and facility investment, is not recovering stably, and due to the recent Sewol accident, consumer confidence is showing signs of contraction."

The 6,825-ton Sewol sank off the southwestern island of Jindo on April 16, leaving more than 300 people dead or missing. Amid an atmosphere of national mourning, consumer spending appears to have slowed in the tourism, hospitality and other services sectors.

"In the economy, the confidence of economic players is important, and if these signs are not dealt with pre-emptively, consumer confidence will freeze up, and there are concerns that the embers of economic recovery will be put out," Park said.

South Korea's economy grew 3.9 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, which was widely interpreted as a sign that it is on the path to recovery.

Those attending the session included Finance Minister Hyun Oh-seok, other economy-related ministers, private experts and business representatives.

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