Korea urged to stop holding CEOs liable for workplace accidents

Participants in the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea's (AMCHAM) Doing Business in Korea Seminar pose for a photo at Grand Hyatt Seoul, Tuesday. Front row fourth from the left are Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry Executive Vice Chairman Park Il-jun, Minister for Trade Cheong In-kyo, AMCHAM Chairman James Kim, National Assembly's Environment & Labor Committee Chairman Rep. Park Jeung and U.S. Ambassador to Korea Philip Goldberg. Courtesy of AMCHAM

The government will continue to pursue regulatory reforms and thoroughly review policy suggestions that the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea (AMCHAM) sent to President Yoon Suk Yeol in February, in order to convince multinational companies to relocate their Asia-Pacific headquarters to Korea from Singapore and Hong Kong, the trade minister said Tuesday.Among AMCHAM’s policy suggestions was a request to ease certain regulations that are idiosyncratic to Korea, such as its workplace safety act that can send a CEO to jail if a fatal industrial accident occurs.Expressing gratitude to the U.S. business lobby for its recent publication of a report on strategies to attract regional headquarters of global firms, Minister for Trade Cheong In-kyo emphasized the government’s commitment to creating a business-friendly investment environment.“The government will continue to pursue labor reforms and other deregulatory measures to satisfy global standards, as the president also clarified that the government’s role is to help businesspeople work more freely,” he said during a seminar hosted by AMCHAM. “I also visited Singapore and Hong Kong 10 years ago to study diverse ways to attract the regional headquarters of global companies.”

Lee Min-young, director of the foreign investment policy division at the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy, added that despite previous unsuccessful attempts in 2006, 2013, and 2020, the government has persistently endeavored to attract the regional headquarters of global companies.“Regional headquarters can strengthen Korea’s supply chain as they accompany facilities for R&D, production and logistics,” she said. “They can also consolidate bilateral relations between Korea and the U.S. in the long run.”The director asked Delta Airlines and other U.S. firms that moved their regional headquarters to Korea to keep providing feedback about what foreign companies need, in order to convince other businesses to move to Korea.Earlier this year, the business lobby sent Yoon a letter, urging the government to ease specific regulations unique to Korea. These include the workplace safety act, which holds CEOs accountable with jail sentences in case of fatal industrial accidents, along with cloud service restrictions and frequently changing tax laws.

The chamber also called for a structured government program with targeted incentives to attract foreign investments and to help expatriates adapt to living in Korea. This request received a positive response from Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Choi Sang-mok earlier this month.“Given Korea’s strengths in economic fundamentals and expertise in critical and emerging technologies, we believe that Korea stands at a significant juncture to establish itself as a regional headquarters in the Asia Pacific. Korea should not take a second seat to any country here in Asia,” AMCHAM Chairman James Kim said at the seminar.U.S. Ambassador to Korea Philip Goldberg also said that Korea is at a moment of opportunity to position itself to attract more international businesses.“Managing an economy as sophisticated as Korea’s is not easy, and there is always room for improvement,” he said. “AMCHAM’s report, along with the Department of State’s Investment Climate Statement, provide a roadmap to facilitate entry for companies considering regional investments.”Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry Executive Vice Chairman Park Il-jun promised that the nation’s largest business lobby will continue to collaborate closely with foreign chambers to foster a favorable 온라인카지노 business environment for global companies.

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