Foreign investors like Pohang most

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Foreign investors like Pohang most

The most satisfactory investment destination for foreigners in Korea is Pohang, a port city in North Gyeongsang, according to the Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industries on Monday.

The result was based on a poll of 1,578 foreign companies dispersed across 87 local governments nationwide. They were asked what they thought of their local governments’ regulations from May until September. The top business lobbying group has conducted the survey annually and provided a map displaying the best investment environments for foreign companies.

“Foreign investors had a hard time getting information about the corporate environment and local regulations in the past, which deterred many from jumping into business in Korea,” said Lee Dong-geun, executive vice chairman of the chamber. “That’s why we provide the map to help them pick the proper investment destination and encourage them to consider spots that they did not consider before.”

Pohang’s city government assigns a civil servant to each company to ease any administrative hassles and provide counseling in the fields of law, tax, customs and labor, the chamber said.

After Pohang, foreign investors were satisfied with Yeongcheon in North Gyeongsang, Gwangyang in South Jeolla and Gunsan in North Jeolla. Pohang has top steelmaker Posco in its borders, while Yeongcheon is Korea’s top vehicle and airplane parts production base. Gwangyang has attracted Posco’s second steel mill, and Gunsan is renowned for machinery and car parts production.

The survey showed Cheonan in South Chungcheong - near Daejeon - was the most foreign investor-friendly city.

Respondents cited the city government’s dispatching of trade delegations to foreign countries twice a year, which resulted in the inking of $200 million worth of deals in the past three years. It also mobilized a budget of 12.5 billion won ($10.8 million) to form an industrial complex solely devoted to foreign companies.

That led to attracting 78 new foreign investments worth $350 million over the past three years.

Eleven autonomous governments, including Gumi in North Gyeongsang, Changwon in South Gyeongsang and Dalseong County in Daegu, received second-best assessment in terms of foreign investor friendliness.

“We learned that no foreign companies had particular complaints about excessive regulations imposed by local governments,” said Lee Min-chang, a professor at Chosun University who participated in the survey project.

The poll found 171 out of 228 local governments offered exemption from property tax for at least seven years and 185 offered subsidies to foreign investors. One hundred and fifty-five local governments set up and run organizations designed to draw foreign investors.

Some governments were shy about foreign investors. Thirty-seven still limited the field of industries for investment candidates, and 73 maintain no organization to deal with foreign investors.

Of all the poll respondents, 18 beefed up the size of their investments over the past three years.

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