President Moon Jae-in on Thursday pledged to increase support and to reduce regulations to aid foreign companies operating here, as he highlighted their contributions to the Korean economy.
Speaking at his first meeting with leaders of foreign businesses and related organizations at Cheong Wa Dae, Moon emphasized the significance of their role.
“When a foreign company invests in Korea, then it is ‘our company’ that moves with the development of our economy,” Moon said, adding that foreign companies operating in the country and Korea are “on the same boat.”
“You are already an important axis of our economy. (Foreign companies) account for 19 percent of exports and 7 percent of employment. (Foreign companies) are making major contributions in improving competitiveness of industries in which we are weak, such as parts and materials.”
Sixty-five representatives of foreign companies and organizations, including the chambers of commerce of US and European countries, attended the meeting.
From the government, top economy policymakers including Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki and Fair Trade Commission chief Kim Sang-jo attended the meeting.
At the meeting, Moon cited increase in foreign direct investment in Korea, going on to list Korea’s merits as an investment destination, listing the country’s economic conditions, industrial infrastructure and its extensive free trade network.
Foreign direct investment pledged to South Korea reached a record high of $26.9 billion last year, jumping 17.2 percent from a year prior.
The president also said that improvements in inter-Korean relations have lowered geopolitical risks, and went on to emphasize his administration’s plans to aid foreign companies.
“Korea’s core strategy for bringing in foreign investment is supporting your success in Korea,” Moon said, listing the regulation sandbox project and increased subsidies for foreign investment as examples of support measures.
“Unnecessary regulations will be removed and investment incentives will be bolstered to ensure that (investing in Korea) has no difficulties compared to investing in your home countries.”
According to Cheong Wa Dae deputy spokesperson Ko Min-jung, attending businesspeople raised a number of issues concerning regulations.
Regulatory issues raised at the meeting include calls for more flexibility in working hours in digital industries, and for changes in those concerning personal information, credit information protection and communications networks, to aid innovation in the finance industry.
In response, chiefs of concerned government organizations pledged to implement changes to aid foreign companies’ operations.
By Choi He-suk (email@example.com