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Korea rolls up sleeves for global bond index inclusion

Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho (first from left) attends the Dubai Future Forum at the Museum of Dubai in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, Tuesday. (Yonhap)
Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho (first from left) attends the Dubai Future Forum at the Museum of Dubai in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, Tuesday. (Yonhap)

The Korean government will make a fresh attempt to get its sovereign bond to be included in the top grade of global market indices, the country’s top economic policymaker told global investors Friday.

Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho revamped local financial rules to adhere to “global standards” so that Asia’s fourth-largest economy could attract more foreign investors.

“Starting this year, we will reform the Korean capital market in a way that is foreign investor-friendly and in line with global standards,” he said during a session co-hosted by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday.

As a part of efforts, Choo held a meeting with Lieve Mostrey, the head of Euroclear, a major international central securities depository, to promote Korea’s inclusion in the World Government Bond Index.

The WGBI, operated by FTSE Russell, is a broad index designed to measure the performance of government bond markets, including local currencies and sovereign bonds of major advanced nations.

According to the country’s finance ministry, its WGBI inclusion will be led to an inflow of foreign investment worth 50 trillion won ($40.4 billion) to 60 trillion won.

In September last year, FTSE Russell added Korea to a watch list for potential inclusion in its WGBI as Korean market authorities proposed several new initiatives intended to improve the structure and accessibility of its capital market for both domestic and global investors.

Other foreign investment attraction strategies include abolishment of the registration system for foreigners, which has long been regarded as an obstacle to their access to the equity market.

Currently, foreigners are required to file personal information to the Financial Supervisory Service before purchasing listed South Korean stocks.

Extension of its foreign-exchange trading hours is also on the table.

Currently, South Korean securities and foreign exchange markets run from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Earlier this month, the finance minister hinted the trading hours could be extended to 2:00 a.m., beginning as early as the second half of 2024.



By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com)
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