SEOUL, Sept. 26 (Yonhap) — Industry Minister Lee Chang-yang asked major companies Monday to join efforts to reduce energy consumption this winter to cope with soaring energy costs.

Lee made the request during a meeting with CEOs of 10 major companies, including Rhee In-yong, president of Samsung Electronics Co., and An Tong-il, chief executive of Hyundai Steel Co., according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

“The current energy crisis is feared to continue for quite some time. Changes to a highly efficient system are required, and the adjustment of power rates for large-volume users, above all, is inevitable,” Lee said during the meeting.

“Cooperation between the government and the private sector is needed to overcome challenges swiftly and to revive economic recovery,” he added.

The government will implement various energy-saving measures at public institutions to achieve the goal of reducing energy consumption by 10 percent this winter, such as limiting the indoor temperature of their buildings, according to the ministry.

Global energy prices have surged over the prolonged war in Ukraine. The price of liquefied natural gas soared to US$55 per million British thermal units in August, compared with $10 in the first quarter of last year.

High energy prices also led the country to suffer a trade deficit.

Last month, the trade deficit came to $9.47 billion, the largest amount to date, as imports jumped 28.2 percent on-year also to a record high of $66.15 billion.

This photo taken Sept. 21, 2022, shows stacks of containers at a port in South Korea's southeastern city of Busan. (Yonhap)