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KCCI head calls for full support businesses seeking alternatives amid Japan’s export curbs

Annual KCCI Jeju forum kicks off with top business leaders, including SK chairman, Samsung vice chairman

SEOGWIPO, Jeju Island -- Amid the growing tension between South Korea and Japan, the head of the largest organization representing businesses here urged the government and political parties to provide full support to cope with Tokyo’s trade restrictions.

Stressing on the need to face challenges in a calm manner and seek countermeasures, Park Yong-maan, chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, asked the Moon Jae-in administration to aid businesses seeking alternatives. 

Park Yong-maan, chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, speaks during the KCCI Jeju Forum in Jeju on Wednesday. (KCCI)
Park Yong-maan, chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, speaks during the KCCI Jeju Forum in Jeju on Wednesday. (KCCI)

“Companies today face unexpected challenges or complicated registration processes when pushing ahead with (investment plans on) R&D and factory building as future strategies, including the domestic production of key materials,” said Park at the annual KCCI Jeju Forum that kicked off Wednesday.

“I seek the government’s full support (on such plans) if it is thinking of special countermeasures.”

The comments came amid reports that Korean chipmakers Samsung Electronics and SK hynix are now in the process of seeking alternatives for three key materials crucial for chip fabrication, which have entirely relied on Japanese companies. Domestic production of key materials has been cited as the most viable choice for now.

The ongoing trade dispute has placed a heavy burden on Korean companies, he said, but it also offers an opportunity for companies to look back on the history of business with their counterparts in Japan, reassess their current status and come up with a strategic plan for the future of bilateral trade.

Companies still face regulations and public misperception that deregulation would bring “total chaos” to the entire industry, he said.

Businesses, for their part, have to assure the public by “playing fairly” in the market, while the government needs to lift unnecessary regulations.

Park was opening the annual four-day event on the nation’s southern resort island, which has brought together more than 600 business leaders from across the country.

Speakers at this year’s forum include Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki, Richard Baldwin, an international economics professor at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, and Peter Cappelli, a professor at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. 

Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki (KCCI)
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki (KCCI)

Finance Minister Hong reiterated the government’s efforts in creating a fair market environment and income-driven economy for Korea’s sustainable economic growth. Noting businesses’ fear over such a policy drive hurting their competitiveness, the minister said the government’s income-driven policy is in the “right” direction, but it is seeking a way to add flexibility for companies concerned of massive costs and labor shortage.

To keep the nation’s economic growth, the minister suggested to create an environment open for new technologies and new platforms while increasing predictability in the market by adopting fair and clear measures.

The list also includes SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, who has been advocating his corporate philosophy of pursuing happiness in corporate culture. Chey is scheduled to speak about the importance of companies creating intangible value for employees and communities.

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Yoon Boo-geun, the IT giant’s external affairs chief, SK Innovation CEO and President Kim Joon, and Kim Chang-beom, vice chairman of Hanwha Chemical, also attended the forum.

By Cho Chung-un (