Lee Myung-bak Administration's Economic Progress Over the Past 2 YearsUpdated: 2010-02-23 12:00:00 (KST)
One of President Lee Myung-bak's greatest achievements during his first two years in office would be on Korea's economic front.
Backed by his know-how acquired through his past experience as the CEO of Hyundai Engineering & Construction President Lee was able to maneuver the country's economy towards growth making it one of the fastest to recover from the global recession.
Throughout last year Korea saw an economic growth of 0.2 percent being the only economy other than Australia among the 30 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to post positive economic growth.
One of the major driving forces that led to such economic success was the nation's nuclear energy industry.
[Interview : Kim Young-hak, Vice Minister
Ministry of Knowledge Economy] "We have an excellent track record. We have high standard of safety record, and we are very price competitive and we are recognized for on-time construction. I would like to point out that we have highly advanced technology and a well-established supply chain."
This all factored into the United Arab Emirates decision to cut a deal worth at least 20 billion US dollars with a Korean-led consortium at the end of last year to build four nuclear power reactors.
And Korea's record-high annual trade surplus of 40.4 billion dollars in 2009 backed by the country's strong performance in the shipmaking and LCD industries was another boosting factor to the economy.
Last year's upbeat trade record was made easier through the government's active pursuit of free trade agreements with major economies.
[Interview : Lee Hye-min, Chief FTA Negotiator
Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade] "More than 80 percent of Korea's GDP is generated by foreign trade. It is very essential for the Korean economy to maintain a free international trade environment. Therefore, President Lee's advocacy for the standstill last year contributed to the fast recovery of the Korean economy and helped the world economy to fight against protectionism."
Under the Lee administration, Korea initialed an FTA with the European Union last October, while the Korea-India Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement was implemented on the first day of this year.
Currently, Korea has seven free trade negotiations in the pipeline including those with major economies such as Canada and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
And the government says it aims to conclude the talks as soon as possible under the condition that Korea can achieve a balance of benefit.
[Reporter : JANG SOUIE
email@example.com] "There is no doubt that Korea has made huge economic strides over the past two years but some say the country's financial progress failed to trickle down to ordinary citizens. So during his time in office the Korean President should focus on supporting the lower income bracket by creating more jobs and raising domestic demand.
Jang Sou-ie, Arirang News."
Reporter : firstname.lastname@example.org