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Foreign company CEOs request larger gov’t incentives, improved infrastructure to expand investments in Korea

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Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Ahn Duk-geun, left, joins foreign company CEOs and representatives of foreign chambers in Korea during a tour at Jingwan Temple in Seoul, Wednesday. Korea Times photo by Ko Dong-hwan

Trade minister invites foreign businesspeople to Buddhist temple in Seoul

By Ko Dong-hwan

Foreign companies operating in Korea hope for the government to provide larger incentives and improve local infrastructure so that they can invest more in the country, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Wednesday.

A delegation of CEOs of foreign companies and representatives of foreign chambers made these suggestions during their meeting with Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Ahn Duk-geun at Jingwan Temple in northwestern Seoul.

They included CEOs of Korean offices of global firms in cutting-edge industries such as semiconductors, batteries and petrochemicals including Dupont, S-Oil, Boeing, Renault, Toray and Axa, as well as representatives of chambers of commerce of the U.S., Germany, France, the U.K., Japan and China.

European Chamber of Commerce in Korea Chairperson Philippe Van Hoof expressed appreciation to the ministry’s support for European firms in Korea and asked for further efforts so that European companies can commit investments in Seoul in a consistent manner, according to the ministry.

S-Oil President Ryu Yul requested that the Korean government extend its tax exemption service and improve its licensing approval procedures for the Shaheen Project, a large-scale petrochemical infrastructure construction project in Ulsan launched by Saudi Aramco, the largest shareholder of S-Oil, investing 9.3 trillion won ($6.9 billion).

Kim Seung-rok, CEO of the Korean office of the U.S.-based Air Products, also requested stronger tax exemptions so that the company can make more investments in clean hydrogen projects in Korea.

Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Ahn Duk-geun, center, speaks during a  meeting with foreign company CEOs and representatives for foreign chambers  in Korea at Jingwan Temple in Seoul, Wednesday. On the left is French Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry President David-Pierre Jalicon and on the right  is Korean-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Martin Henkelmann. Courtesy of Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy

Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Ahn Duk-geun, center, speaks during a meeting with foreign company CEOs and representatives for foreign chambers in Korea at Jingwan Temple in Seoul, Wednesday. On the left is French Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry President David-Pierre Jalicon and on the right is Korean-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Martin Henkelmann. Courtesy of Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy

Sean Blakeley, CEO of the British Chamber of Commerce in Korea, asked the government to introduce an improved electricity distribution network so that British firms make more investments in offshore wind farm projects in Korea. Son Geon-seog, vice-president for battery materials research at Belgium-based Umicore, proposed that the government expand electricity provision for local industrial complexes so that the company can increase investments for facility expansion here.

Dschun Song, managing director for German-headquartered BASF, requested that the government introduce more specified, detailed standards and policies for certifying carbon footprints and decarbonizing businesses so that the company can invest more for eco-friendly projects in Korea.

The dignitaries experienced Buddhist practices at the temple such as a tea ceremony and meditation and enjoyed vegan meals.

“We wanted to show you that Korea, with its rich roots in culture, history and its coexistence with society, has an ideal environment for communicating with global communities and inviting global firms and experts here,” Ahn said during the meeting.

He pledged to cater to the companies’ needs, saying the ministry this year aims to meet the goal of drawing $35 billion in foreign investments.

“We’ve expanded state funds and raised maximum financial supports for foreign companies investing in here. And we’ll provide them with our local talents, for which we have passed a new special bill. Amid the fast-changing global trade environment and tricky supply chains to keep up, we’ll keep bolstering our efforts to host foreign firms here,” he said.

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