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KCCI chief renews will to play bigger role in boosting economic diplomacy

Marking 140th year, business group hosts networking dinner for foreign envoys, multinational companies

By Jie Ye-eun

Published : May 1, 2024 - 15:25

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Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Chey Tae-won (left) speaks with Ukrainian Ambassador to Seoul Dmytro Ponomarenko at the Global Business Networking Night hosted by the business group in Seoul on Tuesday. (KCCI) Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Chey Tae-won (left) speaks with Ukrainian Ambassador to Seoul Dmytro Ponomarenko at the Global Business Networking Night hosted by the business group in Seoul on Tuesday. (KCCI)

Marking the 140th anniversary this year, the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry or KCCI, the nation's largest business lobby, hosted the Global Business Networking Night event in Seoul on Tuesday to further promote foreign investment and attract global companies to nurture the country as the business hub in Asia.

“Starting with tonight's event, the KCCI will further strengthen its role as an economic and diplomatic platform,” KCCI Chair Chey Tae-won, who also serves as chairman of SK Group, said in his opening remarks at the event.

“We are getting ready to launch the KCCI’s economic diplomacy platform in July, where the public and private sectors can exchange substantive cooperation information,” he further hinted.

He called to share ideas between private and public sectors globally to come up with better solutions to borderless dilemmas such as low birth rates, polarization and the climate crisis through the event. The KCCI head also pointed out that global competition is intensifying over cutting-edge technologies and future industries such as artificial intelligence.

Tuesday’s event was the first of its kind where the KCCI brought together foreign envoys in Korea, high-ranking government officials and business leaders to discuss extensive partnership on economic relations. Some 270 guests attended the special event.

Key attendees include US Ambassador to Korea Philip Goldberg, British Ambassador to Korea Colin Crooks, Chinese Ambassador to Korea Xing Haiming, American Chamber of Commerce CEO James Kim, European Chamber of Commerce in Korea Chairman Philippe Van Hoof, Seoul Japan Club Chairman Iguchi Kazuhiro, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo and Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Ahn Duk-geun.

From business circles were Google Korea Country Director Kim Kyoung-hoon, Qualcomm APAC President Kwon Oh-hyung, Hyosung Group Vice Chairman Cho Hyun-sang, Samsung Electronics President Kim Won-kyong of the global public affairs office and SK Supex Council's social value committee head Lee Hyung-hee.

In a separate survey conducted on 61 foreign envoys stationed in Korea, 31 percent of the respondents selected the expansion of investment incentives as the most effective way to promote foreign direct investment here, followed by labor market flexibility (17.2 percent), regulatory easing (13.8 percent) and tax benefits (10.3 percent).

They also requested Korea meet global standards when it comes to criminal liability risk for CEOs, citing the revision to the Serious Industrial Accident Act. Although there is a significantly low risk of major disasters here, they said, the loss of corporate image due to a possible accident and the punishment burden make foreign executives reluctant to take up key positions in Korea.

By sector, renewable energy (77 percent) was picked as the most promising area with potential synergy with Korean firms, together with tourism and logistics, bio and pharmaceuticals and secondary cells and batteries.

According to KCCI, the respondents highlighted that a valued partner is necessary to protect economic security in a situation where the world is facing the same challenges, such as green energy, digital innovation and changes in the international trade environment. They hoped to form a complementary economic community with Korea to secure a reliable supply chain in resources and energy-related business areas as well.

“The suggestions you made could serve as indicators to upgrade Korea’s management investment environment to global standards,” Chey said. “We’ll continue to faithfully fulfill our role as a bridge between companies and the government, and between companies and companies.”