KITA chair resigns, citing pressure from government

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KITA chair resigns, citing pressure from government


Kim In-ho

Korea International Trade Association (KITA) Chairman Kim In-ho resigned on Tuesday, four months before his term officially ends in February, a move that may herald an exodus of organization heads selected under the Park Geun-hye administration.

According to the business lobbying group, Kim submitted his letter of resignation at the organization’s board of directors meeting held that morning, putting an end to his three-year term.

Kim was selected as head of the business lobbying group that consists of over 70,000 member companies in 2015 during the Park administration. Though the group is not run by the government, it falls under the Trade Ministry’s jurisdiction as one of five major business lobbying groups in Korea.

“I figured it would be best for the association to run without me,” Kim said at a press briefing held at the group-run World Trade Center Seoul in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul right after his resignation. “The government has recently sent a message to the effect that I resign.”

As a strong advocate of a market-led economy, Kim’s economic perspective differs from President Moon Jae-in’s income-led growth initiative.

“I have felt a substantial gap between the government’s policy drive and mine on Korea’s industries and trade,” Kim said. “I believe companies should be able to do business in the least-regulated environment so they can fully show off their potential and ultimately boost trade.”

Kim added that he is deeply concerned that the current administration has not mentioned the word “market” while discussing economic growth and said he hopes someone who can be more persuasive in delivering such concerns to the administration can become the next chairman.

While it has become a norm in Korea for heads of public enterprises to quit during the administration transition period, critics of Kim said it is improper to drag someone down just because of differing political opinions.

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