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Better biz environment eyed to lure foreign firms

Korea will take steps to improve its overall business environment to world-class levels by 2014 so it can better attract foreign firms and investors, a senior policymaker said Thursday.

In a meeting with executives of foreign-invested companies and diplomats in Seoul, Knowledge Economy Minister Choi Joong-kyung said a “three-year foreign investors plan” will be established by March that aims to revamp administrative red tape and upgrade labor relations that have been cited for discouraging foreign business investment in the past.

“Changes will be made so companies can acquire land more easily, while concerted efforts will be made to ease labor-management relations,” the official said.

He added Seoul is committed to enhancing intellectual property rights and improving non-business amenities, such as schools and medical services offered to foreigners.
Knowledge Economy Minister Choi Joong-kyung (third from left) poses with representatives of foreign companies in Seoul on Thursday after they sign an agreement to promote mutual growth with smaller firms. From left are Li Biao, chief of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Korea; Jean-Marie Hurtiger, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Korea; Choi; Frank Little, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea; Tsutomu Iwaya, chairman of the Seoul Japan Club; and Cho Hwan-eik, president of KOTRA. (Yonhap News)
Knowledge Economy Minister Choi Joong-kyung (third from left) poses with representatives of foreign companies in Seoul on Thursday after they sign an agreement to promote mutual growth with smaller firms. From left are Li Biao, chief of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Korea; Jean-Marie Hurtiger, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Korea; Choi; Frank Little, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea; Tsutomu Iwaya, chairman of the Seoul Japan Club; and Cho Hwan-eik, president of KOTRA. (Yonhap News)

Choi, in addition, said local businesses want more tie-ups with foreign investors and companies as they move to build commercial nuclear reactors, industrial plants and other social overhead capital projects in the future.

Such projects require huge sums of money and a high level of technology that can be better pursued by working with foreign companies.

The minister also said with the expected ratification of free trade agreements (FTA) with the United States and the European Union this year, Korea could emerge as a hub trading nation in the region that could fuel investments.

“Measures will be taken to attract overseas investment from business sectors that can benefit most from the two FTAs,” he said.

He said electronics and auto industries may attract investment the most.

The meeting was attended by ambassadors from the United States, the European Union and China as well as a CEO and heads of business groups such as the American Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Korea and the Seoul Japan Club. (Yonhap News)
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