[Sponsored Report] Incheon free economic zone moving on fast track

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[Sponsored Report] Incheon free economic zone moving on fast track

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Lee Jong-cheol

Lee Jong-cheol, the commissioner of the Incheon Free Economic Zone Authority, celebrated his 100th day as head of the business and industrial campus earlier this month. To mark the occasion, he sat down for an interview to discuss the future of the IFEZ and related matters.


Q. You started your post as the third commissioner of the IFEZ on July 26. With 100 days in the books, how do you feel?

A. Right after I came into office I visited the Ministry of Justice and other government bodies to ask for regulation relief. I also met with business operators working hard to help the development of the IFEZ. My first 100 days were extremely busy but successful, as we saw some good results related to regulation relief and investments.

While before we focused on hardware, we have now changed our development strategy to software. In the future I will work hard to make the IFEZ into one of the most successful free economic zones in the world.

During your first 100 days, what did you focus on and what would you list as your achievements?

First of all, I have been working hard to increase incentives. These efforts include trying to reduce taxes, establish foreign hospitals, attract foreign education facilities and strengthen the real estate investment immigration system. I also met with local government officials from the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Health and Welfare to resolve various issues that serve as obstacles to the development of the IFEZ.

We have made some solid progress in these areas. I have also abolished our internal committee and established a service team instead to handle a variety of issues.

In terms of foreign direct investment, we have succeeded in cementing six new contracts and three memorandums of understanding despite global economic difficulties.

Combined, the IFEZ has racked up $106 million in investments from foreigners and 455 billion won in investments from locals.

What does the future hold for the free economic zone?

The IFEZ is working hard to form an industrial cluster by attracting foreign and local companies that can serve as anchors of the development. We are actively promoting the zone’s regional competitiveness to investors around the world and in Korea.

As top global companies such as Cisco and GE move in, we hope that a knowledge-based industrial cluster will form. Attracting a local branch of a prestigious overseas university will also help us form an academic base, which will lure more foreign investments.

We are now entering the second phase of the IFEZ development plan, and we expect to see more interest and activity going forward. I will continue to put all my efforts into attracting additional investments and enhancing the IFEZ.

For the IFEZ to succeed, it’s essential for the government to reduce regulations to make it easier for companies to set up shop. Can you assess the situation?

I can say that we are discussing the reduction of regulations. For the IFEZ to truly live up to its potential and foster further development, regulations must be eased. At the same time, lowering taxes for businesses that operate here and increasing incentives are very essential to its success as well.

What’s your top goal as head of the IFEZ?

I want to help attract well-known global companies and large major firms in Korea to the IFEZ. I would also like to contribute in at least some small way to making the IFEZ the best business district in Northeast Asia.

Additionally, I promise I will do my best to reduce regulations from the central government, increase incentives and reduce taxes for companies within the IFEZ.

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