[EDITORIALS]Guarantees for Kaesong

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[EDITORIALS]Guarantees for Kaesong

Detailed plans for providing private loans to companies moving to the Kaesong Industrial Complex are being made. Even though the relationship between the two Koreas is in a state of confusion because of the recent missile crisis, several senior officials from big banks and the credit guarantee funds are planning to visit the industrial complex in North Korea.
The administration’s rationale for the visit is to get immediate financial support from the private sector to implement its special loan guarantee program to companies in Kaesong. The banks are certainly willing to give the loans once they have a guarantee certificate from the fund, which is backed by the government. The guarantee fund has nothing to worry about because the government will probably patch up the damage if the companies default on the loans.
Although the funding is considered private capital, it is in effect a loan using tax money as security.
It is not right to support an inter-Korea project through such means. Even if the Kaesong Industrial Complex is a symbol of the economic cooperation between South and North Korea, the competitiveness and the business potential of companies moving to the complex should come first.
The companies should be able to make profits on their own and without any special treatment or support from the government. The banks will be making loans as if they are only hypothetical. They have no intention of giving out loans without the government guarantee. This demonstrates just how uncertain the business potential of the Kaesong Industrial Complex really is.
There is also the problem of getting products made at Kaesong acknowledged as South Korean products. The United States, which is Korea’s most important export market, is not accepting the idea. Without solving this problem, the prospects of the Kaesong Industrial Complex are uncertain.
Giving huge financial support to the Kaesong Industrial Complex at a time when tension in the international community is rising because of the test launch of North Korean missiles sends the wrong signal to the international community. The United States is worried about the cash that the project will generate for North Korea and probably its military programs. This funding is contradictory to the international mood.

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