S. Korea to invite U.S. companies to IR meeting in Kaesong


The South Korean government said Tuesday that it plans to invite U.S. companies to an investor relations (IR) gathering at the Kaesong industrial complex in North Korea this year.

The event, planned for October, will permit American businessmen to see firsthand the growth of the industrial park that is being built with South Korean capital, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said.

The complex is one of the crowning achievements of the June 2000 summit meeting between the leaders of South and North Korea.

More than 20 South Korean companies are making shoes, clothing, watches and mechanical parts in the industrial park just north of the 248-kilometer-long demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas.

“The IR trip is not directly related to the recently agreed-upon free trade pact between South Korea and the United States,” said Hong Suk-woo, deputy minister for trade and investment.

Washington said it does not consider Kaesong part of South Korea and cannot extend preferential treatment to products made there.

In addition to the IR trip, the official said plans are under way to arrange one or two TV programs to be aired with English captions to provide information to foreign businessmen.

“The government is also considering a 24-hour English-language radio broadcasting that can provide timely information to foreign living in South Korea,” Hong said. China, Japan and Germany have such radio programs.

He said the ministry and related agencies plan to set up joint project teams to aggressively target specific companies for investment in the country.

“Government ministries, 16 regional administrations and the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency will form teams that will work as one to attract investments,” he said.

The deputy minister said the 16 regional governments plan to set up three foreign corporate investment teams each by the end of the month so they can begin contacting prospective partners. Particular attention will be paid to attract investment in hightech areas including chemicals, electronics, semiconductors and machinery.

He said without going into details that some foreign companies have expressed interest in investing in South Korea.

Hong said the government expects foreign direct investment to reach $11 billion by the year’s end, roughly the same as last year’s $11.2 billion.


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