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[Editorial] Is There Any Pleasant Country to Live in with an “Anti-business Sentiment?”

[Editorial] Is There Any Pleasant Country to Live in with an “Anti-business Sentiment?”

Posted March. 21, 2007 07:12,   


In an interview, chairman of the Korea Fair Trade Commission Kwon Oh-seung said, “Korea is preoccupied with creating a business-friendly environment. This is undesirable because the measure can be seen as an effort to favor a handful of powerful big companies.” Surprisingly, he seems to understand “business-friendly” policies as ones exclusively for big corporations. Of course, his remark is misleading and the chairman himself is preoccupied with taking sides just as other government officials always do.

Advanced countries are doing their best to turn their “already business-friendly environment” into “more business-friendly” through deregulation, a pro-business atmosphere, and tax breaks. The Index of Economic Freedom of the Heritage Foundation ranks Korea 36th out of 157 countries. Overregulation is the single biggest obstacle to Korean businesses, which have been instrumental in making Korea fall within the top 10 economies in the world.

Reportedly, Chairman Kwon claimed, “The government should make Korea ‘consumer-friendly’ and ‘citizen-friendly,’ rather than ‘business-friendly.” What he said sounds like “putting the cart before the horse.” If businesses are not doing well, consumers and citizens cannot be happy. He showed that he is unhappy with the fact that the justice minister reflected businesses’ opinion in his decision not to introduce a double derivative action system.

Who doesn’t want a pleasant country to live in? It has been proven that the best way to make a country favorable to live in is to make it “business-friendly.” That way, more jobs will be created through investments, leading to increased income for citizens. This is the surest way to improve the quality of living in any country. Unfortunately, the government has been going backwards.

“Elimination of polarization” in our society won’t be realized by mere rhetoric. Polarization can be eased by a business-friendly and investor-friendly atmosphere. The current government, however, sticks to policies that fly in the face of creating such environment, making things harder for the poor.

The business environment in Korea is actually worsening with time. As the headlines of foreign newspapers state, “Export-led Korean economy gets lost,” Korea is having a hard time, sandwiched between advanced countries and developing countries and Japan and China. Without finding new growth engines, Korean big companies are seeing their profitability declining. Under this circumstance, the last thing the Fair Trade Commission should do is come up with anti-business propaganda.

The chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries, who took the helm of the commission just yesterday, said, “I will make my voice heard for the establishment of free market principles and for the settlement of pro-business environment.” It is worried that the government might put a damper on his efforts.