[EDITORIALS]Show foreigners Korea is safeFinance Minister Lee Hun-jai, met with several prominent fund managers during his trip to New York, who told him that Wall Street is interested in two things: whether the Korean government will continue its market-friendly policies and what it will do about the labor issue.
Investors in the United States, Mr. Lee observed, showed particular interest in the direction of Korean government policies. With the left-leaning Our Open Party winning the majority of the legislative seats, many foreign investors are concerned about the possibility of Korean economic policies becoming less friendly to the free market and businesses. It was reported that the managers thought this was a bigger issue than the North Korean nuclear program.
What does this mean? It means foreign investors do not think it is safe to invest in Korea. That was why an executive from Morgan Stanley, the U.S.-based investment banking giant, recently visited the Democratic Labor Party headquarters.
If the Korean economy is to revive, it is essential that we have foreign capital. Foreign-owned shares make up 40 percent of the domestic stock market, heavily influencing the daily outcome. Under these circumstances, if something occurs that makes foreign investors think that Korea is unsafe, our economy is lost.
Domestic businesses owners share the same concerns. This is why domestic demand, consumption and investment are not rising despite government efforts.
The government party should open its eyes to this reality. It must convince the investors that it is safe to do business in Korea. Our Open Party has favored “a balance between growth and wealth distribution,” but it needs to give a clearer message and show more action.
The labor sector should also refrain from too many demands. Now that it has entered as a bona fide political player, the Democratic Labor Party should consider what is best for laborers and the economy.
Our Open Party and the government should seek ways to reassure foreign investors. Stephan Newhouse, Morgan Stanley president, said the biggest hindrances to attracting foreign capital in Korea were the inflexibility of its labor market and government regulations. His words show what the government should do.