Industrial lobbyists line up legislative wish list

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Industrial lobbyists line up legislative wish list

Newly elected members of the National Assembly won’t take their seats for more than a month, but lobbyists from Korea’s biggest industries are already unfurling their lists of demands to get the economy back on track.

The Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Thursday hosted the first in a round of meetings planned to discuss ways to blunt the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The meeting, held at the chamber’s headquarters in central Seoul, gathered together associations representing the auto, steel, shipbuilding, machinery and petrochemical industries.

Kim Tae-nyen, vice president of the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association, called for extended subsidies for eco-friendly cars and tax reduction on car purchases.

“The shockwaves of global supply chain disruption and shrinking demand will become more obvious in April with the spread of the coronavirus in countries like Europe and the United States,” he said.

Kim added that he has demanded a 70-percent reduction in the acquisition tax for new vehicle purchases.

The automobile industry, characterized by a complex supply chain across the globe, is expected to face a steep decline in demand during the second quarter, said Kim Jin-woo, an analyst at Korea Investment & Securities who delivered the meeting’s keynote speech.

“The global automobile industry will see a 7.7-percent decline in demand during the second quarter as supply chain disruptions and sluggish sales will start to take full effect,” Kim Jin-woo said.

The automotive sector’s subpar performance will then ripple through the steel industry as the majority of cars are made of steel, he warned.

Lee Min-chul, the Korea Iron & Steel Association’s executive vice chairman, proposed that the government push large public infrastructure projects and repair the nation’s 20-year-old water supply facilities.

The Korea Offshore & Shipbuilding Association requested the extension of debt maturity and financial subsidies as local shipbuilders have suffered low orders.

And beset by a combination of fluctuating oil prices and the coronavirus outbreak, the Korea Petrochemical Industry Association suggested a zero tax rate on naphtha, a key ingredient for refiners.

Kim Pyung-joong, an executive of the association, said tariffs on naphtha totaled 95 billion won ($77.5 million) last year.

The industry’s peers in China and Japan are exempt from the obligation, he said.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]

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