Foreign Investment Decreases in South Korea

Declining manufacturing investment a factor

Foreign investment decreased for the third consecutive year to slightly above $10 billion in 2007, the commerce ministry of South Korea said on Jan. 6. The ministry reported a 6.5% drop year-on-year to $10.5 billion last year, attributing the setback to slow growth in developed economies, a strengthening won and declining manufacturing investment.

It was $11.2 billion in 2006 and $11.6 billion in 2005, the ministry said, adding it expects at least $10 billion this year.

Meanwhile, David Eldon, a British financial expert and advisor to South Korean President-elect Lee Myung-Bak, urged Seoul to work out open and fair rules to lure more foreign investors. "In the case of Korea, foreign investors prefer places where they can do business openly and transparently," said Eldon, who co-chairs the competitiveness committee of Lee's transition team. "If the people in South Korea want investment to come in, they have to improve the level for competition. Those have to come from within."

Eldon, also chairman of the Board of the Dubai International Financial Center Authority, is the first foreigner to join South Korea's presidential transition team. Lee, 66, a former construction company executive and ex-mayor of Seoul, is South Korea's first president-elect from a business background. He won the December 19 presidential election on pledges to achieve annual growth of 7% and double per-capita income to $40,000 by 2017 by encouraging foreign and corporate investment.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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