Pusan Port Will Be Designated Tariff-Free Zone by Year's End

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Pusan Port Will Be Designated Tariff-Free Zone by Year's End

President Kim Dae-jung said Monday that he would designate Pusan Port a tariff-free zone by the end of this year.

"The port of Pusan, along with the relinked Kyongui inter-Korean railway and Incheon International Airport, will serve Korea as we look to become a logistical hub in the 21st century," Mr. Kim said in an interview with the Pusan Ilbo to mark the paper's 10th anniversary.

"We will move forward to January 2006 the opening of a new port, which is now scheduled for August 2007. We will also increase port capacity to 30 docks, from the current 25 ," the president said.

A Blue House official amplified, "A tariff-free zone will bring about economic effects of increased airport and port fee payments. We are also looking at job opportunities accruing from goods la-beling and in-creased foreign investment."

Under legislation drawn up by the government in May 2000, a tariff-free zone levies no tariffs on all products flowing in and out of the area, and registered companies are exempt from paying value-added and special income taxes.

The announcement is the latest of a series of ambitious proposals by the central government to buoy the attractiveness of the nation's ports and airports, including Gwangyang Port, Inchon Port and the Incheon International Airport, by giving them tax-free designations.

An official with the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said that discussions are under way among the Pusan municipal government and the related ministries. The proposal will be formally submitted to the Ministry of Finance and Economy in October.

Under the plan, the first phase of tariff exemption will cover 340,000 square meters of land south of Gamcheon Port and the 1.34 million square meters of the Shinseondae Dock for container freights of Pusan Port.

"A plan to attract the London Metals Exchange at a bond-processing area of Gamcheon Port, which is part of Pusan Port, broke down early this year," the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries official said. "In light of this and other developments, it will prove difficult to suggest concrete economic effects of the designation."

by Kim Jin-kook

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