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[Editorial] Stop Hindering the Competitiveness of the Metropolitan Area

[Editorial] Stop Hindering the Competitiveness of the Metropolitan Area

Posted May. 08, 2005 00:01,   


The government has driven local governments and companies into confusion by proceeding with an imbalanced construction policy for a high-tech factory in the Seoul metropolitan area. One wonders what the government’s true intentions are when it simply states that it would allow as little construction as possible, even while 3.6 trillion won in new investment is on hold.

The government once laid out numerous deregulation policies for the metropolitan area in a bid to placate the residents’ opposition to the relocation of the nation’s capital. The government has undergone an about face, and is putting a strain on the high-tech factory construction, the key deregulation project. It is difficult to read the government’s mind.

The metropolitan area, with its outstanding infrastructure and human resources, provides the most suitable location for cutting-edge industries such as semi-conductor, electronics, and Information Technology industries. The government should approach the high-tech factory construction not as a solution to decentralize the population, but as an international competition against similar areas in Tokyo and Shanghai in Northeast Asia. Foreign investors often refuse to make any investment unless it is based in the metropolitan area. I have no idea why the government keeps a tight grip on the metropolitan area, blocking the inflow of advanced technology and capital.

During the Metropolitan Development Measures meeting presided over by Prime Minister Lee Hae-chan, Governor Son Hak-kyu of Gyeonggi province stated his complaints over the permitted date and extent of high-tech factory construction, and left the room after the Ministry of Construction and Transportation, the regulator of the project, held on to its initial position that “high-tech factory construction should be permitted at an appropriate time to a minimal extent.”

The government should get rid of policies that stomp on the advantages of metropolitan areas, which is one of the strongest points of Korea. It was belatedly revealed that President Roh Moo-hyun had individual unofficial meetings with business leaders. Cheong Wa Dae commented, “It was an opportunity to ask for full support in reviving the economy,” but other interpretations abound. Expanding investments by large companies and foreign investors lead to job creation and economic revitalization. It would be against the national interest to miss such opportunities. Whatever the president talked about with the business leaders, the most important economic issue is to eliminate the policies that undermine the competitiveness of the metropolitan area.