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Foreigners advise Seoul to improve openness

Global enterprise executives in Korea held the Foreign Investment Advisory Council in Seoul on Wednesday to discuss plans for improvement of the foreign investment environment in the capital.

Seoul city, the government and various chambers of commerce officials and heads of multinational corporations gathered in hopes of making Seoul a top global city.

“Seoul’s competiveness has advanced greatly over the past five years thanks to its investment environment,” said Roland Villinger, chairman of the FIAC and head of McKinsey & Company’s Seoul Branch.

Villinger added that the city’s infrastructure, cultural environment, quality of its research and development, corporate competitiveness and its global reputation had all improved over those years.

However, he said, efforts are needed to improve openness and intellectual property rights for foreigners.

According to Villinger, one of the topics that the FIAC has been addressing is the pardoning of corporate executives for administrative offences, which has long been an issue for the foreign community.

He said that the law does not fall in line with international standards and that criminal records are a far more serious issue for corporations abroad than in Korea.

Richard Hill, head of SC First Bank, Huang De, head of Bank of China’s Seoul branch, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon, and Eric Hoffman, president of AON Korea, were among those seated at the council.

The FIAC was created in 1999 as a channel for the foreign business community to provide feedback and advice to the capital on foreign investment policies.

The council has also advised on various Seoul projects, including the Digital Media City in Sangam, restoration of Cheonggye Stream and the construction of the Yongsan International School of Seoul.

Villinger said in an interview with The Korea Herald that Seoul has some areas in which it needs to catch up to international standards, but “overall has seen improvements across the board.”

By Robert Lee (robert@heraldcorp.com)
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