Special Report; Foreign Investment in Korea to Hit $16 Bil. This Year

Article excerpt

After suffering its financial crisis in 1997, Korea is determined not to go back to the demise and is planning to lure another $16 billion in foreign direct investment this year.

According to the Commerce, Industry and Energy Minister Kim Young-ho, the government is planning to adopt regional strategies to attract foreign investments.

``Every country and their companies have their needs and we will strive to meet those needs by establishing an effective infrastructure for foreign businesses,'' the minister said.

He said the Korean government will be providing investors with a package of incentives and follow-up services so that their investments here bear the optimal fruit.

The former professor said, ``Over the long term, we are looking at the adoption of a comprehensive strategy for attracting foreign investments totaling 20 percent of the GDP in the year 2010.''

Korea has been working overtime since the financial crisis to bring in foreign investments, not just as a means to increase foreign reserves but to introduce advanced technologies.

As a result of these efforts, FDI in Korea has been increasing dramatically over the past two years and achieving this year's goal of bringing in $16 billion will be another milestone.

As part of the measures to woo more foreign investments, MOCIE is planning to compile complaints from organizations such as the American Chamber of Commerce and Industry to apply in government policy.

``We have done many things over the past couple of years to improve the business environment for foreign companies and it is time to make the climate even more sophisticated,'' Kim said.

In addition to activities of the central government through organizations like the Korea Investment Service Center, MOCIE will also be working closely with provincial administrations to increase foreign investments in those regions as well.

On the trade front, Kim said everything is being geared to realize the goal of hitting a trade surplus of $12 billion this year even though the nation has gotten off to a slow start.

``We are basically looking at an expansion in overall trade, both import and export, but the vitality of the export industry should make it possible to

realize the surplus of $12 billion,'' he noted.

As part of this plan, MOCIE will aid in transform the current trading format to one that is more integrated where companies are exporting cultural products and services.

At the same time, greater emphasis will be placed on improving industrial design and developing Korea's own brands and trademarks to expand its presence in the international markets.

``More and more, quality is taken for granted and there has to be that additional benefit of buying a Korean product and this will come in categories like industrial design,'' Kim said.

Also important, he said, is the vitalization of e-commerce and cyber- trading, areas which are emerging as the central theme in global trade and areas in which Korean companies must focus more on.

Along this line, MOCIE will be promoting joint research and other activities among companies, universities and research institutes to boost Korea's competitiveness in the global market. …