Listen to the complaints

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Listen to the complaints

Park Yong-mann, chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), wrote on Facebook that the government has become hopeless and helpless due to its wrecked bilateral relationship with Japan.

His frustration explodes on the issue of regulation. “Starting new industries is almost comical as they face a jungle of regulations upon birth. Opportunities in medical and education services are heavily stifled. If you mention deregulation, you are immediately called a public enemy,” he complained.

Regulations remain steadfast, hindering the long-awaited launch of a sharing economy, telemedicine and use of private information for big data services. Businessmen are grumbling about the snail’s pace of removing outdated rules and the fast speed of making new regulations.

The government has suggested it has few options to counter Japan’s economic retaliation. Kim Sang-jo, presidential policy chief, said there is a long list of materials and parts that go into display and chip making. Japan has singled out three top items for the first round of its export restriction, he said. Kim sounded as if the Moon Jae-in administration knew how Tokyo would act. And yet he could not explain what the government had prepared for counteraction or prevention. The only specific plans was to file complaints with the World Trade Organization, a process that could take years.

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said the government would have to study the measures, again without a plan. A senior trade and industry ministry official even rebuked people from chip and display companies for not preparing for the situation through their intelligence in Japan.

The government asks companies to invest because sagging investment drags down domestic demand, jobs and economy amid decreasing external demand. But companies are too busy fretting about their survivability with no help from the government. “What can we do against the rush of a tsunami?” sighed Chairman Park as he closed his post. He pleaded politicians to help the economy where it is necessary. The business community is asking for government protection in the diplomatic row over past issues and lifting of regulations so that it can explore new business opportunities.

JoongAng Ilbo, July 5, Page 30
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