The Incheon Free Economic Zone is emerging as a global city, with 94 percent of foreign direct investment in eight free economic zones in Korea coming to the IFEZ.
The free economic zone was started in 2003 to become a hub city in Northeast Asia, and has shown remarkable growth since. IFEZ has achieved its initial FDI goal and brought in $1.7 billion, about 9 percent of the total FDI in South Korea ($19 billion) and a 2.5 percentage point increase from the previous year.
IFEZ has also hosted a total of 13 international organizations to date, such as the Green Climate Fund in Songdo, as well as the World Bank, Association of World Election Bodies, and the U.N. ESCAP office. More global organizations are expected to come to the zone, according to officials.
The night view of Songdo. (IFEZ)
Several notable projects set up in the IFEZ include the Songdo Central Park, which is the first park in South Korea to be connected with the sea. Incheon Global Campus will act as an “integrated campus,” housing popular programs from SUNY, George Mason University, Ghent University and The University of Utah.
There is also the Korean American Village, a residential area built for returning Korean-Americans to live in.
There are also plans to turn IFEZ into a constantly connected smart city, as well as creating a Hana Financial Town in Cheongna International City.
One of the reasons the IFEZ is seeing increased investment and attracting international organizations is due to its proximity to Incheon International Airport, which has direct flights to over 61 cities around the world.
The IFEZ is also very approachable to the Seoul metropolitan area, making it easy to hire college-educated talent from nearby. The Chadwick International and the Incheon Global Campus also makes the IFEZ a foreigner-friendly residential area.
The IFEZ is also attractive as a self-sufficient green city. Songdo has all of its infrastructure and services within a 5-kilometer radius, and is environmentally conscious with a green area ratio of 30 percent, an automatic collection facility for domestic waste, and a water recycling system.
Future of IFEZ
Experts expect that there is much potential in the IFEZ, from its proximity to airport and sea ports, as well as designating the area along with China’s Weihai as a “Korea-China Free Trade Agreement Economic Cooperation Demonstration Zone”
Cho Dong-am, IFEZ deputy commissioner, said that the zone should be driven harder, and that it should be designated as a relaxed regulation demonstration zone.
“This would be in accordance with the “choice and concentration strategy” that designated Incheon as a free economic zone and would provide the force for growth. We expect the central government to provide a ground-breaking decision,” he said.
IFEZ is expected to bring even more attention from worldwide investors due to its geographical advantage and global infrastructure.
By Sang Youn-joo (firstname.lastname@example.org)