Beginning his third year in office, President Moon Jae-in says this year will be dedicated to achieving positive changes that can be felt by small and medium-sized businesses.
"SMEs are the center of the economy. If they succeed, jobs and household income increase and people can live affluently. If people live well and spend more, small businesses can thrive."
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President Moon Jae-in met with hundreds of businessmen from SMEs and related organizations on Tuesday, to lay out the government's plans to support the growth of their businesses.
According to the president, around 18 billion U.S. dollars will be used to support some one,600 firms this year.
That's up ten percent from the previous year.
He added that four-thousand smart factories will be built in 2019 alone, to improve the performance of smaller companies.
And that number is forecast to climb to 30-thousand by 2022.
Unnecessary regulations will also be removed.
South Korea's regulatory sandbox has already approved around 50 companies with innovative financial technology, within the first four months of the sandbox's implementation.
That number is expected to hit 100 by the end of this year.
Tuesday's event took place just two weeks after the president visited a Samsung Electronics factory -- in efforts to support the country's system semiconductor industry.
According to a Blue House official, President Moon acknowledges that the economy is driven by various players, and that Tuesday's gathering aims to encourage smaller firms, including those in the manufacturing sector.
It's his first visit to the headquarters of the Korea Federation of SMEs in Seoul, to attend the annual meeting of heads of small enterprises.
It's also the first visit by a sitting president in eleven years, with former president Lee Myung-bak last visiting in 2008.
Park Hee-jun, Arirang News.