South Korea's finance minister Tuesday called on European companies to expand investment here, promising that the government will continue to provide support and help them do business "with security."
Finance Minister Hyun Oh-seok made the remarks during a meeting with envoys of EU member countries in central Seoul. The meeting comes a week after Hyun met with foreign business leaders and urged them to increase local investment and employment.
"The Korean government has continued to push forward its efforts to attract foreign investment. We have steadily lowered entry barriers for foreign investors and provided diverse incentives such as tax exemption and financial support," Hyun said in a prepared speech.
"We will maintain our support for EU companies to help them invest in Korea with security, and make Korea a country where more foreign investors are eager to invest in," he added.
He noted that the EU is South Korea's second-largest trade partner, adding that it is the region making the largest investment here despite a brief downturn in 2012.
"The EU's investment in Korea fell sharply in 2012, but I am glad that the lost ground was somewhat recovered last year and hope that your investment will continue to grow going forward," Hyun said.
Hyun painted a relatively rosy outlook for South Korea's economy, citing advanced countries whose recovery trends are gaining traction. He also pointed to the accelerating pace of economic recovery in Europe, which could bolster optimism for Korea's export-driven growth.
"Backed by such global economic trend, Korean economy's turnaround becomes more evident. If such a trend continues, the Korean economy is forecast to grow around 3.9 percent this year," he said.
With regard to the anxiety prompted by the U.S. Federal Reserve's tapering decision, Hyun assured that Korea has been "standing out" among other emerging countries thanks to its fiscal health, strong current account surplus and ample foreign reserves.
Calling the Korea-EU free trade agreement, which went into effect in 2011, a "milestone" in "greatly" upgrading their bilateral economic cooperation, he hoped that the ties could go beyond trade in the future.
"I hope that Korea and the EU work closely together to examine progress and discuss pending issues to make sure that the FTA's benefits can extend beyond trade in goods toward service industries and investment in the years to come," he said. (Yonhap)