The Korean government plans to invest $100 billion over the next three years in its infrastructure, and many Korean companies involved in infrastructure projects will need foreign partners for technology transfer and capital, said Jerry Mitchell, minister-counselor at the U.S. Embassy to the Republic of Korea, at an April 3 seminar.
Mr. Mitchell told attendees at the seminar at the JW Marriott at Lenox that Korea plans to build a Seoul-Pusan high-speed rail project, an international airport near Inchon and additional nuclear and thermal power plants.
Another high growth area for U.S. companies, he added, is in environmental technologies. As Korean voters become more “green,” he said, government and business entities are looking for solutions to air and water pollution and solid waste disposal.
In 1996, said Mr. Mitchell, Koreans spent more that $5.5 billion in the environmental sector, with $2.6 billion coming from the government. U.S. companies are perceived by Koreans to be particularly strong in the environmental field, he added.
Michael Brown, president of the American Chamber of Commerce, Seoul, added that intellectual property protection has improved in the last 15 years, although it is still a problem. The government has passed legislation to bring enforcement policies up to World Trade Organization standards, he said, and has allocated more money to enforcement efforts.
Yang-Kyoon Byeon, director general of Korea’s ministry of finance and economy, said that Korea has also taken steps to liberalize and reform its financial and telecommunications sectors, which had previously been among the most closed sectors of the economy.
In an effort to bring the country out of its recession, the government is trying to eliminate any anti-competitive mechanisms in the Korean economy, he added.
The seminar was part of the 1997 Korea Caravan and was presented by the Southern Center for International Studies, the Korea-Southeast U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.
The Korea Caravan is sponsored by the Korea Economic Institute of America and the Federation of Korean Industries to promote trade and investment between the U.S. and Korea.