Minister Paik Un-gyu of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) and CEOs of the nation’s representative manufacturing and service companies gesture in a show of solidarity during their meeting at the Grand InterContinental Hotel in Seoul on July 6. (Photo: MOTIE)
Minister Paik Un-gyu of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) met with CEOs of the nation’s representative manufacturing and service companies at the Grand InterContinental Hotel in Seoul on July 16 and stressed that the ministry will become a “enterprise-friendly” ministry.
The move may be construed as MOTIE Minister Paik’s coming to the front following President Moon Jae-in’s hint at a shift to business-friendly policies by meeting Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, while making a state visit to India on July 9. Minister Paik said, “Regulations undermining corporate activities will be aggressively sorted out and improved, infrastructure will be expanded, and (the ministry) will cooperate with related ministries to provide support like tax credit and benefits.”
The MOTIE has not found it easy to coordinate policies with some anti-business, pro-labor ministries, however.
The meeting with 12 company CEOs was designed to discuss ways of boosting investments and creating jobs. The ministry wanted to lend an ear to the complaints and grievances companies experience and provide government support to turn around sagging corporate investment and slumping job creation.
Among the CEOs on hand at the meeting were Kim Motors President Park Han-woo, Doosan Vice Chairman Dong Hyun-soo, Lotte Vice Chairman Hwang Gak-kyu, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Yoon Boo-keun, E-Mart President Lee Kap-soo, POSCO President Oh In-hwan, Hanwha President Choi Sun-mook, Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings Vice Chairman Kwon Oh-gap, CJ Korea Express President Park Geun-tae, GS President Chung Chan-soo, LG Chem President Sohn Dong-wook, and SK Innovation President Kim Joon.
The participants were from companies which have something to do with the ministry, which were selected among top conglomerates except public enterprises, a ministry official said.
The participating CEOs called for the ministry to overhaul regulations that hinder new corporate investments like excessive protection of personal information and restrictions against holding companies’ investments, timely expanding of industrial infrastructure, and tax credit and benefits extended to new industry investments.
They also asked for the introduction of a flexible workweek system, reflecting difficulties in the industry community following a drop in the maximum allowable workweek to 52 hours. The problem is that most of the CEOs’ requests are related to affairs outside the MOTIE’s jurisdiction.
The issue of offering tax credits to environmental facility investments, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, has almost no room to be handled by the MOTIE. As to the request for a flexible workweek system, the MOTIE said it will look into the current situation of difficulties related to the mandatory workweek each industry sector undergoes and consult with the Ministry of Employment and Labor (MOEL). Such issues like a reduction in the maximum allowable workweek falls under the jurisdiction of the MOEL.
Reflecting concerns from the business community that corporate grievance and suggestions involve many ministries, including the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, the Environment Ministry and the Fair Trade Commission, MOTIE Minister Paik stressed the need for the ministry to be more aggressive as a full-fledged corporate supporter.
He said the MOTIE will devote itself to persuading related ministries from the industry policy perspective. Paik said businessmen’s roles in investing and creating jobs is significant to overcome external and internal hardships and usher in an era of $30,000 in per capita income.