Friday, February 26, 2010

Interview: Mr. Lee Han-soo, Mayor of Iksan City

The world's major countries are paying increasing attention to the new value of the food industry. North European countries such as Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands established a food cluster to create new national wealth. Particularly in Sweden and Denmark, the Oresund food cluster created more than 60,000 new jobs, while creating yearly sales of about $48 billion.
The Oresund cluster houses a variety of food manufacturers, including the globally-renowned brewer Carlsberg, sugar maker Danisco, and Novozymes, a specialist in enzymes for food processing. Plus it also accommodates food-related companies, including the world’s largest milk pack manufacturer TetraPak and packaging specialist Reksam. Unilever and Nestle also run their own R&D centers in the Oresund food cluster.
Under this backdrop, Korea is also developing its food industry into a high value and promising future industry. A food cluster is under construction in Iksan in North Jeolla Province to be used as a forward base to promote Korea’s food exports in collaboration with the Saemangeum project.
The government is injecting 580 billion won over the next five years. The plan calls for both state and private funds to be used to set up a so-called national food cluster, to be completed by 2015. Another "HUB" in the making ;)

I interviewed Mr. Lee Han-soo, Mayor of Iksan City  to probe further.

I think that attracting the foreign investment is the key element to facilitate the national food cluster in Iksan.
We agreed to promote Iksan national food cluster through participating in SIAL 2010 Food Expo, where we will operate the food pavilion, and also hold a CEO forum for foreign invested food companies to develop the strategies to attract the investment.
The event is a global marketplace for all those involved in the food industry (retail, trade, manufacturing, catering professions, services). SIAL is where business and innovation meets. This year it will be held from October 17th to 21st at Parc des Expositions de Paris Nord Villepinte, Paris. More than 185 visitor countries and 101 exhibitor countries are expected to participate
-The main goal is to become the hub of food industry in Northeast Asia. In order to achieve the goal, we should attract businesses to the cluster, and improve the standard of the technology in food industry.
The most of advanced countries try to dominate the food market in advance via aggressive investment. Thus we should continue to promote the cluster in an efficient and feasible way to become the capital of world food market. Besides, we will try to secure the national budget to attract investments so we will be able to focus on the target region and companies who have an intention to invest in the national food cluster. At the same time I would like to stress that national food cluster will be equipped with comprehensive R&D infrastructure which will improve the productivity of occupants.
-We offer various kinds of incentives for the foreign investors such as start-up assistance and support for the local transfers, employment settlement subsidy, workforce training subsidy, and etc.
With regard to the benefits of investors we are planning to develop strategies such as designation of economic free trade zone and foreign investment zone within the national food cluster hence we will be able to offer more feasible incentives to foreign investors since legal basis just has been prepared for national food cluster due to the amendment of ‘Food Industry Promotion Act’.
-In the national food cluster, ‘Food Quality Safety Management Center’, ‘Food Function Evaluation Center’, and ‘Food Packaging Center’ will be built as core R&D institutions, which will bring high-added value to the food production and processing within the cluster. The main function of each center is as follows:
1. Food Quality Safety Management Center
- The center will execute the safety and quality test for the food produced in the area which is the requirement for the export, and also offer the various consulting services
2. Food Function Evaluation Center
- The center will carry out the analysis for food, food material and functionality assessment to add a high value to the product.
3. Food Packaging Center
The center will focus on the technical development related to the design, environment-friendly packaging, and prototype food packaging.
The R&D based national food cluster which is export-oriented will be fostered as the hub for the Northeast Asia food market.
-Iksan city ensures comfortable and pleasant residential environment for investors and employees moving to live in Iksan city. Iksan city is a government-designated women-friendly city, an attractive and hopeful land of dream as a future education city with Jeonbuk University, Wonkwang University and Jeonbuk Science High School and Education Institutes nearby.
Furthermore, numerous food-related companies such as Harim, Orion and Samyang, etc. have their presence in the region. It is a safe city with virtually no natural disasters, and a comfortable and convenient city to live in with advanced social infrastructure in the areas of education, medicine, culture, and residence, etc.
-The national food cluster in Iksan is ready to secure national budget due to the completion of feasibility analysis, and legal basis is prepared by the amendment of ‘Food Industry Promotion Act’. In addition the official name of the national food cluster project is recently determined as ‘Foodpolis’ which means a food city.  I would like to ask investors for continuous interest and support for the ‘Foodpolis’, future hub for the Northeast food market.