Busan: South Korea is ready to be the global hub for advanced technology industry under strong support from international alliances which will invest more in its economic growth and competitiveness capacity.
The country also pledged to strengthen cooperation with its Asean partners for further trade and investment development and is interested in investing in the automobile industry in Thailand's Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) in Rayong province.
The Investment Korea Summit 2023 was held recently by the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), and drew hundreds of participants from the United States, Europe, China and Japan.
KOTRA, Korea's national investment promotion agency, supports foreign businesses in Korea. It also promotes Korea's investment environment and provides services such as consultations on topics ranging from investment notification to setting up businesses.
Jang Young Jin, 1st vice minister of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, said US-China competition is likely to lead to slow economic growth this year.
South Korea is trying to build a friendly investment environment through bilateral free trade agreements with 20 countries, including tax benefits and other privileges. With those efforts, the country has enjoyed a leap in foreign direct investment (FDI) now worth over US$23.9 billion, mainly in semiconductors.
"We have been seeking further international trade investment, exploring new markets and enhancing the supply chain," Mr Jin said.
Regarding trade and investment cooperation in Asean, he said Asean still has big potential to draw trade and investment, affirmed by the rapid growth in trade between Korea and Asean countries.
Also, rising production costs in China and the enhanced competitiveness of Chinese companies have prompted Korea and other nations to shift their investment strategies, turning to the Asean region as a trade and investment hub.
Meanwhile, a source from the ministry said Korea was keen on investing in the automobile industry in the EEC in Rayong. "Korea is keen on developing advanced technology and believes the EEC has the potential for automobile industry investment," he said.
The EEC Development Plan is part of the Thailand 4.0 scheme aiming to revitalise the Eastern Seaboard, a powerhouse of industrial production in Thailand for over 30 years.
The EEC Development Plan will lead a significant development and transformation of Thailand's investment in physical and social infrastructure in the area. The EEC project will, initially, be focused in 3 eastern provinces namely Chachoengsao, Chon Buri and Rayong.
According to the ministry, Korea has achieved record-high foreign direct investment as a global investment hub. It will continue to spearhead innovation in high-tech industries together with partners from across the globe.
Based on FDI figures in 2022, 2.93% of FDI went to advanced industry investment, 45.2% to material components and equipment, and 51.85% to other categories.
Greenfield investments account for $17 billion of total FDI, and investments in future high-tech industries drew $7 billion. There are also 22 cases of increases in large-scale investments.
Presiding over the meeting, Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said the government would do its best to promote investment, turning it into a global hub for high-tech.
"We would like to create trust among investors that we will do the best to support them, including better regulations to help the investors by eliminating unnecessary red tape.
"We will do more to encourage a stable supply chain. Importantly, we have the number one digital powerhouse in the world, making it possible to be the global hub for high-tech industry," he said.
Four foreign companies has asked to invest more than $900 million in energy, future mobility, semiconductors and ICT. They come from Japan, the US, Spain and B.Grimm Power, which invested in wind energy.