Regions doing their own diplomacy

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Regions doing their own diplomacy

While the central government’s diplomacy has been hurt by the resignation of Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan, who left office on Sept. 6, local governments are trying to carry out their own diplomatic efforts to boost their local regions.

The efforts follow a public outcry over Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan’s daughter being selected over other candidates for a position at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government, meanwhile, had set an ambitious goal of attracting 5 million Chinese tourists by 2014.

For that to happen, the Seoul city government would have to work with the government’s immigration office to ease visa regulations, as well as examine regulations on building hotels and inns for tourists and create tour packages tailored to VIP tourists who don’t hesitate to pay for Chanel bags and Rolex watches.

“Many countries are now focused on reviving their economies and they are eyeing the tourism industry because it’s one of the key industries for job creation,” said Ahn Seung-il, a senior official at the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s culture and tourism bureau. “In fact, they are now waging a war without guns to dominate Chinese tourists.”

The Seoul city government said its ultimate goal is to easily grant visa waiver status to Chinese tourists, with the cooperation of the central government.

Delegations from Gyeonggi, led by Gov. Kim Moon-soo, last month left for the U.S. for a six-day trip and signed a $10 million memorandum of understanding with Cabot Microelectronics. Under the agreement, Cabot will establish a factory and research center for developing chemical polishing materials at the Oseong Industrial Complex in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi.

The Gyeonggi government managed to arrange an investment agreement with four other U.S. companies worth $150 million.

“This is the biggest investment achievement the Gyeonggi government made so far this year,” said Shin Nang-hyeon, an official at the Gyeonggi Provincial Government.

Incheon Mayor Song Young-gil also plans to take a business trip to the United States this month to sign an investment agreement with U.S.-based Cisco Systems for opening an overseas office in Songdo.

While some governments are gearing up to win foreign investments, others want to host international conferences. In September, North Gyeongsang hosted the 30th Food and Agriculture Organization Regional Conference for Asia and the Pacific in Gyeongju.

By Kim Mi-ju []
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