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Korea to ease rules for FEZ hospitals, schools

Foreign hospitals may be allowed to hire more Korean doctors

The Park Geun-hye administration is considering easing a set of business regulations on medical institutions and schools in free economic zones nationwide.

During a policy briefing to the president on Thursday, the National Economic Advisory Council unveiled a vision to develop the service industry by lifting outdated barriers in terms of attracting foreign capital to the FEZs in Incheon and other regions.

For the medical sector, the NEAC recommended eliminating the requirements that foreign hospitals in the FEZs should employ a doctor staff of at least 10 percent expat doctors and that the hospital chief should be a foreigner.

In addition, it is necessary for policymakers to allow Korean hospitals in the zones to hire foreign doctors, said the council.

The council also called on the government to abolish the rule that limits the proportion of inpatients for expats in the FEZ hospitals to 5 percent of the total sickbeds.

It also stressed the necessity of easing the investment rules, saying that hospitals in FEZs should benchmark Jejudo Island.

Currently, any foreign hospital is entitled to operate in Jeju as long as its investment capital exceeds $5 million with a foreign investor ratio of 50 percent.

Park and the advisory council also discussed the methods ― though they are still at the beginning stages ― to promote Korean medical institutions’ advancement into the overseas market.

To draw renowned foreign educational institutions, the NEAC said the government should allow foreign colleges and other schools in the zones to transfer operational surplus to their countries.

Speaking on the positive effects of the free economic zone on the local economy, the Committee on Northeast Asian Business Hub last month said the government would ease regulations in the area to lure as much foreign investment as possible.

The government plans to inject a total of 202 trillion won ($190 billion) into the construction of the zone while trying to attract foreign investment worth $27.6 billion by 2020, the committee said.

Of the total amount, $17.6 billion will be raised through direct foreign investment while the remaining $10 billion will come from project financing, the committee said.

By Kim Yon-se (kys@heraldcorp.com)
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