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Dignitaries impressed by gov’t plan

Aug 31,2017
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British Ambassador Charles Hay, left, asks a question on opening up Korea’s service market during the Korea Economic Forum. [PARK SANG-MOON]
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[PARK SANG-MOON]
Local business leaders and foreign diplomats welcomed the new administration’s financial policy direction, which will aim to bring forth more inclusive and market-friendly measures.

“We see ‘inclusive finance’ as an important policy agenda for the future,” said Choi Jong-ku, the chairman of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), in front of about 110 dignitaries - including business leaders and ambassadors - during his keynote speech at the Korea Economic Forum on Wednesday hosted by the Korea JoongAng Daily at the Lotte Hotel Seoul. “What we are aiming for is cultivating a financial environment of living together.”

Choi addressed the audience at the 11th annual economic forum and provided the general outline of the new government’s financial policy. Business leaders in the financial industry who attended this year’s forum included Yoon Jong-kyoo, the chairman and CEO of KB Financial Group, Lee Kyung-seob, the CEO of NH Bank, Lee Kwang-koo, the President and CEO of Woori Bank, Ham Young-joo, the President and CEO of KEB Hana Bank, Jung Eun-young, the President and CEO of HSBC, Jean-Pierre Trinelle, the senior country officer for the Korean branch of Credit Agricole CIB and Yoon Ho-young the co-chairman of Korea’s second internet-only bank Kakao Bank.

Ha Yung-ku, the chairman and CEO of the Korea Federation of Banks, and Hwang Young-key, the chairman of the Korea Financial Investment Association, also attended the event. James Kim, the chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, represented the American business community in Korea at the forum.

“I think chairman Choi provided a lucid insight into the changes we can expect as we shift from a conservative government for the past nine years to a liberal government,” said Hwang of the Korea Financial Investment Association.

The FSC head explained that under the Moon Jae-in administration, financial policy will focus on accommodating the needs of all people and hoped that “the benefits of financial services will spread around even to the previously un-served people.”

Choi also mentioned the government’s intention to help not only Korean financial companies to expand overseas, but also to lower the barrier for foreign companies to enter the local market.

“[Choi provided] a positive vision for financial services in Korea and I think it’s positive in particular that he’s talking about expanding Korean financial services internationally,” said Charles Hay, the British ambassador to Korea. “I think that will also mean there will be more international financial companies [coming to Korea], particularly as we move into the world of fintech.”

“There will be a lot of opportunities for British financial companies and also for Korean financial companies [overseas],” Hay added.

Hay was one of eight ambassadors that represented their respective countries at Wednesday’s forum. Other representatives included James Choi, the Australian ambassador, Eric Walsh, the Canadian ambassador and Maro della Seta, the Italian Ambassador.

Choi also hinted at the government’s intention to impose deregulation when necessary, offering a positive outlook to leaders of non-financial industries on their business in Korea as well.

“We are going to act boldly to simplify needlessly cumbersome regulations and give more leeway or discretion to financial institutions as well,” the FSC chair said.

“I think the new FSC chairman has a balanced perspective on the economic market,” said Jung Jae-hee, the chief executive officer of Ford Sales and Service Korea. “I think he also has a positive point of view about deregulation. From the position of industries [other than finance], such policy regulation would be helpful for us to do business.”

Other business leaders also expressed their confidence in the new head of the FSC.

“We are very interested [about the financial market dynamics in Korea],” said Bernd Gehlen, Vice President and Head of Corporate Service Unit at BASF Korea. “Even for companies in production, we are all impacted by the financial environment.”

“It was very impressive how he described [the policy direction for financial markets by the government] and the three main themes he has given was very convincing,” Gehlen added. “I think he knows what he is doing.”


BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]