[EDITORIALS]Better nowhere than here?The Tripartite Committee released a report that the government’s strict regulations in the Seoul metropolitan area could accelerate the manufacturing industry’s exodus by inciting companies to move aboard.
According to the report, the regulations, including the suppression of the new establishment and expansion of factories in the Seoul region, are driving companies to transfer overseas rather than move to rural areas.
The government last year eased some of the regulations, including partial permission for the construction and expansion of high-tech industries’ factories using the establishment of the administrative city as momentum. The effects of loosening the regulations, however, were minimal, since the framework remained unchanged.
Meanwhile, the government has been aggressively encouraging companies to move to the countryside through the establishment of “corporate cities” and “innovative cities.”
Companies, however, insist that they are more competitive if they move abroad rather than move out of the Seoul metropolitan area.
In fact, both high-tech companies and low-tech ones that failed to build or expand factories pointed to the Seoul metropolitan regulation as the primary reason for their failure.
The report also said that if the regulations on the establishment of the plants in the Seoul metropolitan area were to be lifted, 202,000 new jobs could be created.
This shows that jobs could be stripped away entirely by foreign countries while we continue to argue whether to create jobs in the Seoul metropolitan area or in the country at a time when unemployment is getting worse.
Major European countries such as Britain and France long ago either lifted or gave up on policies that were meant to limit the centralization of major cities, as competition between regions and cities came to the fore rather than competition between countries.
Britain, which enforced license systems on the establishment and expansion of office buildings and factories to decentralize London, shut down its various constraint policies in 1981. France, which administrated strict regulations such as a construction license system to prevent Paris from centralizing, lifted various regulations in the late 1980s ahead of Europe’s consolidation.
It is time for an extensive re-discussion of whether a metropolitan regulation that has continued for 40 years is necessary. Global competition is getting fiercer and strong options for factory sites, such as China, exist. The Seoul metropolitan area must also be globally competitive.