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(SEOUL = Newsis) Korean President Park Geun-hye said on January 9 during a luncheon meeting with business leaders of foreign companies in Korea that she confidently recommends Korea as the most promising investment destination, and business leaders emphasized they will increase investment in Korea.
“The importance of GM Korea as an export base to the Global GM is evident, and we will continue our investment in Korea,” said Sergio Rocha, President and CEO of General Motors Korea (GM Korea), during a luncheon meeting with President Park and other leaders of foreign businesses operating in Korea. Senior presidential press secretary Lee Jung-hyun said President Rocha also denied the rumor that GM Korea will pull out from the Korean market.
“There are rumors that GM Korea will withdraw from Korea, but I can confirm that our company will remain in Korea as it is now,” said Rocha. He also said “let’s go together” in Korean during the meeting.
President Rocha also expressed his hope that Korea will conclude its free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations with Australia.
Last December, General Motors decided to stop the car production of its Australian unit GM Holden until 2017. The conclusion of the Korea-Australia FTA will allow GM Korea to benefit from the removal of tariffs and have price competitiveness equivalent to that of local car manufacturers.
Rocha also expressed his thanks to the Korean government for creating a business environment of harmonious labor-management relations and swiftly lifting regulations related to car production. Rocha appeared mindful of the Supreme Court’s decision on regular wages and of the Korean government’s exemption of popular commercial vehicles, including Damas minivans, from environmental and safety regulations for a certain period of time.
Ahn Seung-bum, CEO of General Electric’s (GE) Global Offshore and Marine Division, said that the company decided to invest in mammography equipment after GE President and CEO Jeff Immelt met President Park last October. “We also opened our headquarters for shipbuilding and an offshore division in Busan last October, and we are looking for a large investment,” said Ahn.
“We are pushing forward our headquarters relocation process, and no government has ever supported our company like the current government does. It is like we are receiving support from 20 officials of the government and Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), free of charge,” said Kim Jong-kap, Chairman and CEO of Siemens Korea.
“Korea has become an attractive investment destination, as FTAs and other factors have widened the country’s economic territory. Korea announced its intention to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) at an appropriate time, and the conclusion of the TPP will significantly boost foreign investment,” Kim added.
“We built the special chemistry headquarters in 2011 and recently formed a research and development center on the campus of Ewha Womans University,” said Andre Nothomb, Representative Director of Solvay Korea Co., LTD. “President Park announced a new business plan for the Saemangeum Reclamation Area during her visit to Belgium and we plan to establish a new investment plan.”
“We are now under negotiations to acquire sites for an investment of KRW 5 trillion in the Ulsan factory, and we will make our investment as soon as we acquire the site,” said Nasser Al-Mahasher, Representative Director and CEO of S-OIL. “Saudi Aramco decided to buy Hanjin Energy Co.’s stake in S-OIL based on its expectation for Korea’s promising future, and hopes that the investment decision will help Hanjin Energy Co.’s business restructuring.”
“We decided to buy Hanjin Energy Co.’s entire stake in S-OIL, and we did because we have trust in Korea. We will continue to expand our investment in Korea and the board of directors also made the decision to invest,” He said.
Business leaders of Japanese companies also joined the luncheon meeting and called for close cooperation in economy amid tense atmosphere between Korea and Japan.
Toru Nakajima, Chairman of the Seoul-Japan Club, expected that the revised promotion act will provide companies in Korea and Japan an opportunity to enhance cooperation in investment, and called for the support of the Korean government to prevent strained Korea-Japan relations from adversely affecting relationships between the companies of the two nations.
“Toray Industries Inc. decided to establish a new plant to produce polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) resin in the Saemangeum Industrial Complex, and we expect high demand for PPS resin both in Korea and China. We also hope for an early conclusion of the Korea-China FTA talks, for it will create a bigger market,” said Lee Young-Kwan, Chairman and CEO of Toray Advanced Materials Korea Inc.
“We will be able to continue with our business in Korea if there is no discrimination against Japanese companies,” said Lee.
President Park responded to every suggestion by the business leaders during the meeting.
“We are here to stay,” said Rocha, during the meeting, to which Park responded, “Government is here to support you.”
“We will reflect suggestions by the foreign companies in the policy-making process to maintain policy predictability and consistency. Cooperation between government departments is important and we will try to make the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy a window for collecting suggestions from companies,” said Park.
“We will do our utmost to protect intellectual property rights to protect investors and push ahead with a creative economy. The government will also carry out a survey for companies’ reaction to new policies,” she said.
Siemens’ Kim expressed his thanks to the Korean government for quickly reflecting suggestions made by foreign companies during a meeting last April. Rocha said the efforts of the president to resolve the difficulties of foreign companies were very encouraging.
“We appreciate that the Korean government concretely reflects the various difficulties of foreign companies when it comes to investment and business administration in its policies,” said Amy Jackson, President of the American Chamber of Commerce.
Kenneth Muller, President and CEO of Otis Elevator Korea, expressed his hope that improvements will be made in the predictability of future policies and their harmonization with global standards as well as labor-management relations. email@example.com
Source: Newsis (Jan. 9, 2014)
** This article was translated from the Korean.