[EDITORIALS]Sneak attack on businessThe governing Uri Party passed the revised fair trade law in the absence of Grand National Party legislators. The business community is in shock and business organizations reacted strongly. The revision includes measures that bind the activities of Korean companies: limiting the investment ceiling of businesses in their affiliates, removing the voting rights of shares held by the financial arms of big companies and allowing authorities the right to trace accounts. Korea’s representative companies are left under the threat of management rights from overseas.
First of all, we would like to ask the government and the governing party why they pushed the bill in a hurry, even though it was opposed by both the business community and the political opposition. The most urgent task is overcoming the economic crisis through a recovery of investment and consumption. Due to the revision, big businesses are forced into a situation where they have to pay more attention to defending their management rights than to investment. The new law leads the economy in the opposite direction it should be going. Is binding big businesses more urgent than growth?
The government criticizes big companies for defending their management rights more than investing. How can a businessman concentrate on business if his management rights are under threat? Currently, big companies are exposed to takeover threats from overseas. The average rate of foreign investment in Korea’s 10 largest companies is 44 percent, and there are companies where foreign investment exceeds 60 percent. As attempts for both hostile mergers and acquisitions are on the rise recently, many people are asking for countermeasures. Foreign companies shouldn’t be discriminated against, but Korean companies should not have their hands tied either.
We worry whether the hostility and prejudice against big companies harbored by this administration has worked in the background of this move. If profitable companies are handed over to foreigners because the government doesn’t like the company or its owner, it will be a big loss to national wealth and national power. Why cannot the government discern the priorities? The growth rate in the third quarter dropped to 4.6 percent and the Korean economy is in a very bad situation. To avoid the fate of some South American economies, the government should stop treating big business with hostility.