[FOUNTAIN]Where guests want to comeThe new administration’s foremost economic issue is to construct an economic hub for Northeast Asia.
East Asian nations account for a fourth of global gross domestic product and a third of world trade. They have had high economic growth rates for the past few decades. It is encouraging to imagine that Korea could be established as the central nation for finance, business, logistics, information technology and tourism in East Asia.
But it is another issue to invite or attract more foreign companies and businessmen who would be impressed with the potential and enthusiasm to build a business center in this country. It is a more difficult matter to induce these “guests” to see Korea as the center stage of the region.
Guests want to visit places where they will be welcomed warmly. Guests do not want to go to places where they will be treated badly, be told they are not welcome or where the hosts speak ill of them behind their backs.
It is ridiculous that Koreans expect more foreign guests to visit this country when Koreans reject imported products and have high tariff barriers. Foreign investors also find themselves tied up with government red tape.
Whether trade goods or culture, Koreans need open-mindedness and liberalism toward products of other countries.
Guests do not like to visit the home of a moody and capricious host; they want to go to homes where harmony and goodwill reign. Foreign businessmen do not want to invest their money in a country where economic rules change quickly and the people who apply those rules have no clue about how to implement them.
The business center of Asia should have consistent and transparent economic regulations and rules.
Guests will not want to visit a country whose government slaps harsh rules on business organizations even if the government treats foreign firms better than domestic ones.
A country that always monitors and watches every movement of firms is not a good host.
Once Korea was famous for its people’s zeal to develop the economy; Koreans did so diligently. But now, Koreans feel relatively deprived and dissatisfied with their society. Flexible labor market and harmony between labor and management are necessary to establish a business center for Asia. Guests want to visit stable places.
Visitors do not want to come to a place of constant turmoil that someone might turn into a sea of flames at any time.
Even Koreans are concerned about the unstable conditions brought about by North Korea; people living abroad feel much more anxious than Koreans about North Korea’s nuclear program.
Peace between the two Koreas is the absolute priority to become a business center.
by Kim Chung-soo
The writer is a senior economic affairs writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.