biz lobby-meeting

SEOUL, March 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's largest business organization will hold a meeting of top leaders this week to discuss how to overcome economic difficulties, an official said Tuesday.

The business leaders plan to assess the current economic situation and come up with countermeasures at the meeting scheduled for Thursday, said the official of the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), or the lobby for the country's family-controlled conglomerates, known as chaebol.

He said specific agendas of the meeting remain unclear, though there is speculation that the business leaders are likely to discuss ways in which to cooperate with the new government's economic policy that calls for, among other things, job creation and shared growth.

South Korea's top 30 conglomerates are unlikely to announce their investment plans on Thursday, the official said, asking not to be identified, citing policy.

Last year, the family-controlled conglomerates vowed to invest 120.9 trillion won (US$110 billion), though it remains unclear whether they actually followed through on their investment plans, the official said, noting data has not been compiled yet.

The planned meeting comes as South Korea's new President Park Geun-hye has vowed to revitalize the slumping economy and create new jobs as Asia's fourth-largest economy has showed signs of slowing down.

The unemployment rate stood at 3.4 percent in January, up from the previous month's 2.9 percent. The rate rose above 3 percent for the first time since August, according to the statistics office.

South Korea's economy grew 2 percent last year, the lowest growth in three years, and the government recently slashed its growth outlook for this year from 4 percent to 3 percent.

Last month, FKI Chairman Huh Chang-soo, the head of GS Group, the country's seventh-largest conglomerate, called on his fellow business leaders to expand investment and create jobs, pledging that the business lobby will also do its part for economic growth.

The FKI also vowed to make efforts to spur exports and domestic consumption while expanding social contributions. Exports account for more than half of South Korea's gross domestic product.

For decades, South Korea's exports have been led by chaebol, including Samsung Group, South Korea's largest conglomerate whose businesses range from electronics to insurance.

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