Lee Myung-bak: A New Partnership with the Foreign Investment Community

by Anne Ladouceur, 18/01/2008

President-elect Lee Myung-Bak addressed the Foreign Investors’ New Year Reception 2008 on Tuesday 15 February. In attendance were over 600 members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Korea and the Seoul Japan Club.

H.E. Lee Myung-Bak gave a 10-minute presentation, in English, outlining his “Policies for Renewed Growth and A New Partnership with the Foreign Investment Community”, in which he outlined his “747” economic initiative.

The President-elect expressed his recognition of the contributions foreign investors have made to Korea’s economic progress over the past 40 years and listed passion for the country along with the contributions of capital and technology. He then went on to list three of the “man-made obstacles and barriers” that confront foreign entities wanting to do business in Korea. “The lack of predictability of economic policies, with high-level policymakers saying one thing, and working-level bureaucrats doing another, may be one source of frustration. High personal income and corporate income tax rates, especially compared to Hong Kong and Singapore, and the lack of clarity in the interpretation of tax laws may be another.” H.E. Lee Myung-Bak topped off his list with the mention of labor union problems.

He promised the assembly that he would launch task forces to come up with solutions to these issues in “a minimal amount of time” and not only asked for input from foreign investors but also invited them to give their “assessments of these efforts the next time we meet a year from now.” Something to look forward to at the beginning of 2009, the Year of the Ox.

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