Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Interview: Mr. Choi Jong-man, Commissioner of Gwangyang Bay Area Free Economic Zone Authority

Designated a free economic zone in October 2003, the Gwangyang Bay Free Economic Zone has unlimited potential to become a global logistics hub with an unrivaled transportation network, a world-class industrial infrastructure, incomparable living conditions, and business friendly environment featuring a variety of attractive deregulation and support policies.
GFEZ is comprised of five districts, each with its own mission in the overall development. Each of the districts has its own development agenda, with the first phases well under way and ongoing through 2011. They comprise: Gwangyang District (Logistics), Yulchon District (Manufacturing), Sindeok District (Residential), Hwayang District (Tourism) and Hadong District (Multi-purpose). Since its establishment in 2003, the GFEZ Authority has been able to attract a total of 6.5104 trillion won worth of investments from approximately 80 companies (59 local, 31 foreign), creating 17,165 new jobs, which has given a tremendous boost to the growth of the regional economy.
In particular, the active participation of the 31 foreign investors (38% of total investment) has established a bridgehead for GFEZ to serve as international business hub. It has attracted total 2.5938 trillion won from 31 foreign investors, and commercial traffic in Gwangyang Bay Area has also grown from 1.19 billion to 1.81 million TEU (53% increase), which has played an important role in the economic growth of Jeollanam- do.
Despite its relatively short duration of operation, GFEZ has been acting as a center of the economy of Jeollanam- do, as well as activating the economy of the east side of Korea.
In an interview,Mr. Choi Jong-man, Commissioner of Gwangyang Bay Area Free Economic Zone Authority, talks about his strategies to attract more foreign investors.
>>GFEZ has been designated as a Special Economic Zone, along with Busan and Incheon, by the Korean government. By offering special incentives for the foreign companies who invest, its strategy is to attract more investors and to contribute to the development and prosperity of the regional economy.
Gwangyang Port, thanks to the two-port system, has already been consolidated with industrial bases such as Gwangyang Steel Mill and Gwangyang Port Container Terminal even before the establishment of GFEZ. For this reason, with Gwangyang as a center, GFEZ was established aiming to become a global hub dealing with industry, leisure, education, and logistics.
Of course, attracting foreign investors and logistic companies is essential; however, it is also important to be accompanied with cooperation of Korea-based companies and activation of regional industry. GFEZ will focus on increasing container traffic as well as developing its strong manufacturing and high-tech industries.
>>All administrative procedures, ranging from investment advice to the start of the business will be handled by the GFEZ Authority, ensuring more convenient business start-up. A range of subsidies will also be provided once the company satisfies certain requirements, helping cutting costs and maximizing profits.
GFEZ offers far-reaching tax incentives and some areas may also enjoy the benefits of a free trade zone. For the foreign companies located inside the FEZ and free economic zone developers, 100 percent of tax exemption for national tax; tariffs, corporate tax, income tax, and local tax; acquisition tax, registration tax, property tax is offered.
Three years exemption of corporate tax, income tax, acquisition tax, registration tax, property tax, and comprehensive land tax for foreign companies that make a pre-qualified investment in manufacturing or logistics, and 50 percent reduction of all these taxes for an additional two years will be provided for foreign investors in Gwangyang Port Free Trade Zone (8.88).
Gwangyang Port Free Trade Zone also offers exceptionally low rental fee; 30 won/ per month for preferential rent and 200 won/ per month for basic rent. 28 companies including Samsung Tesco, SNNC, and Korea Express are the current tenants residing in the free trade zone.
>>GFEZ, mainly in Gwangyang and Yulchon District, is focusing on steel-making materials and non-ferrous metals, new and advanced high-tech materials, IT, compound and chemical product manufacturing, metal works related manufacturing.
In Hwayang District, it is aiming to develop as a great tourist destination to complement Korea’s southern coast tourism belt by attracting and building a unique place-golf-courses, spa resorts, shopping malls, and hotels- that combines beauty and the needs of tourists.
In Sindeok District, mainly Sindae Hinterland, is planning to develop a new residential, educational, and recreational town with international schools, marina facilities, hospitals, condominiums, townhouses, shopping centers, and top of the line amenities by 2011.
GFEZ expects 20 educational institutions and universities to be established within this zone. In this regard, Korea’s first fully foreign owned and accredited branch school, the Shipping & Transport College (STC-K) of the Netherlands, is already providing educational degrees to local and international students at their campus in Gwangyang Port.
In the matter of building medical facilities, foreigners or corporate bodies designed to provide medical services to foreigners under commercial law, and companies of which 50 percent or more is owned by foreign investors are allowed to establish medical centers and pharmacies within the district. Moreover, GFEZ offers the tenants of educational or medical institutions to use its land for free of charge.
>>First, GFEZ has the best geographical conditions and unrivaled transportation network to become a maritime transshipment cargo hub. It is located between China, Japan, and Russia and close to many major Northeast Asian ports including Shanghai, Hong Kong, Osaka, and Kaohsiung.
Domestically, there are four airports close to GFEZ: Yeosu, Gwangju, Muan, and Sacheon. Currently, three expressways, eight national roads, and eighteen regional roads are directly connected to GFEZ. Especially Jeonju-Gwangyang expressway is expected to be completed by 2010, which will cut driving time to Seoul to 3 hours. Besides, GFEZ is linked to two national railway lines; the Jeolla Line (North-South) and the Kyungjeon Line (East-West). Also, GFEZ has direct access to two industrial railways, the Gwangyang Line for steel transportation and the Yeocheon Line mostly for petrochemical products.
Second, GFEZ possesses the optimal infrastructure necessary for industrial activities. Nature gas for industrial production is planned to be supplied through pipelines across the GFEZ. Also, GFEZ has abundant water resources to fully meet its needs. Three rivers; the Seomjin, the Youngsan, and the Tamjin Rivers, as well as three dams; the Juam, the Suyeo, and the Tamjin Dams, are adjacent or within the area. Moreover, its stable electric power supply and environmental waste water supply make GFEZ as incomparable to the other free economic zones in Korea.
Lastly, combined with its abundant resources and geographical advantages, GFEZ makes it possible to secure the supply of materials, manufacture, and import at one-stop. This is a huge advantage compare to other free economic zones in Korea, considering convenience and cost-benefits.
>>Gwangyang Bay Free Economic Zone has excellent labor force and industrial infrastructure. While considering the advanced economic levels of Japan and China, they may seem to bring profits for short time, however, their high wages and expenses cannot be comparable to GFEZ in the long-term.
As the commissioner, I will continue to find better ways for GFEZ to become the best business-friendly Free Economic Zone in the world as well as in East Asia.
To do so, GFEZ will try to sign more MOUs with foreign investors by hosting a meeting with ambassadors, diplomats, and business leaders. Also, I strongly urge the potential investors to visit Gwangyang and experience its beautiful natural resources and attractive conditions.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Interview: Mr. Chang Tae-pyong, Minister of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

The Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries is taking efforts to make the food industry as the next growth engine, by encouraging foreign investors. The government has chosen “Profit-making Agriculture and Fisheries & Lively Rural Society” as one of its goals to pursue for the next five year term. In line with the government commitment, the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries aims to upgrade agriculture from primary production-based industry into advanced industry which encompasses processing and marketing so that our agriculture and fisheries can compete in a global arena.
Mr. Chang Tae-pyong, Minister of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries tells us of his plans to promote Korea’s food industry as well as to attract more foreign investors in the national food cluster that is to be established in Iksan city.
>>MIFAFF will focus on creating an innovative agriculture and fisheries industry as the next growth industry for the next decade. We will stress importance to the following factors in order to take on the new innovative food policy:
-Reformation of the national agricultural cooperative federation and the national federation of fisheries cooperatives to be completed. Also, improvements in structure of agricultural and fisheries industry need to be made through stabilizing rural households’ income.
-Expand the new growth engines and promote high value-added branches such as innovative seed and bio-tech industry in order to set a new policy.
-Supply safe food through providing environment-friendly agricultural products, supply stabilization of agro-fishery products including rice, expansion and globalization of Korean food.
-Expand the rural farming and fishery business and revitalize the rural community in order to activate the regional economy
>>Despite the stagnation of agriculture in Korea, MIFAFF has been paying serious attention to sustainable growth of the food industry, and has selected it as a potential growing industry to create remarkable value.
In this context, MIFAFF decided to promote the national food cluster that will overcome the limits of low technology of the Korean food industry. We started by benchmarking the successful cases of Food Valley in Netherlands and Oresund Cluster in Denmark and Sweden.
Hence, the export-oriented national food cluster -Foodpolis- was announced to be formed in Iksan city by 2011 and it is our aim to become a hub of Northeast Asia’s food industry. Foodpolis (239ha) will set up an active manufacturing, processing and export system through a liaison with Saemangeum and Korea Food Research Institute (to be relocated in Jeollabuk-do). Inside the complex, about 150 research institutes and domestic/international companies will be attracted to promote traditional, functional and organically processed food. Also, about 6 government-supported facilities, such as cluster support centers and R&D centers, will support in developing special technologies, functional evaluation and boost competitiveness of the companies in residency.
>>The key goal of MIFAFF is to expand attraction of foreign direct investment into agro-food industry. In order to create the Foodpolis as a foodhold of FDI, MIFAFF will designate Foreign Investment Zone and grant various incentives such as supplying a low rent long term lease and support funds for agricultural policy and R&D.
MIFAFF will also give an impetus to attracting foreign investments by cooperating with professional investment agencies- EUCCK and Invest Korea. Moreover, we will constantly make efforts to seek ways to draw foreign investments in Fund of Funds for agro-food (KRW 100 billion) by 2011, high-tech glasshouse, and capital-intensive agri-business.
In early July, MIFAFF appointed a consultative committee comprising renowned food companies (Danone and Nestle), distributors (Homeplus) and quality-testing institutions (SGS). The committee will advise on foreign investment in the Foodpolis and will help to promote the national food cluster to related food companies. Also, the committee will participate in the workshop hosted by MIFAFF and visit the places like Foodpolis in Iksan and Saemangeum reclaimed shore, to discuss about  investment programs and improvement of the foreign investment conditions.
>>The European Union, with the world’s largest economy ($10 trillion), is the second partner to conclude FTA (official agreements to be signed in late 2010) with our country.
MIFAFF has been seeking ways to take measures for agriculture and fisheries houses to help from opening the market. In particular, the recent Korea-EU FTA is expected to threaten the livestock industry and we will try to come up with a radical reformation of the industry. For example, the market share of the domestic beef after resumption of U.S. beef is increased by implementing place-of-origin indication system and beef traceability: 44.2% (2004) → 47.6% (2008) → 49.8% (2009). Also, the planted areas for grapes after Korea-Chile FTA is rather increased by 12.1%: 1,641ha (2003) → 1,842ha (2006) → 1,840ha (2007).
Thus, FTA and DDA can be worked as a chance to increase agricultural trade with neighboring countries with huge market like China and India. China’s interest for health and well-being could impact on the country’s export for food companies as well as the whole agricultural sector.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Interview: Ms. Jhon Eun-sook, Director General, Korea Food & Drug Administration

The Korea Food & Drug Administration is responsible for promoting the public health by ensuring the safety and efficacy of foods, pharmaceuticals, medical devices and cosmetics, and supporting the development of the food and pharmaceutical industries.
When the Korea Food and Drug Safety Headquarter was raised to the status of administration in February 1998, the Food Safety Bureau began with three divisions and 25 employees. As of June 2010, its organization and no. of personnel have increased to 11 divisions and 144 employees.
In an exclusive interview Ms. Jhon Eun-sook, Director General, Food Safety headquarters talks about the responsibilities of the department and the plans for the future:
The Food Safety Bureau is in charge of the Framework Act on Food Safety, Food Sanitation Act, Act on Health and Functional Food, and Special Act on Safety Management of Children's Dietary Life. It devises safety management policies on food (including health and functional food), food additives, and utensil and container packaging, and executes the policies.
Its key activities include 'preventive activities', 'quick response to food accidents', 'safety management in preparation for the future', 'improvement of the nation's reputation by advancing food safety', and 'promotion of food safety and nutrition policies that citizens identify with'.
To prevent food accidents
- Expand and operate the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP).
Provide facility support to small- to mid-sized companies, field technology guidance, and customized training so that HACCP-applied products can account for at least 95% of total food production by 2012.
- System where consumers request for sanitary inspection
If there are 20 or more consumers who suffered the same damage, a sanitary inspection is carried out by food sanitation inspectors, including HACCP inspectors and the food poisoning cause assessment team. The results of the inspection are notified to consumers and disclosed on KFDA's Website.
- Strengthen imported food safety management
A field inspection is carried out for companies and countries from which food is imported in large quantities, that have a high number of cases of unsuitability, or whose products have been detected to have carcinogenic substances. This is how imports of harmful food are prevented and relevant products are managed with focus.
For voluntary sanitation management by importers, various systems are in operation, such as the 'prior confirmation and registration system for imported food', 'Good Importer Practice system', and 'system of carrying out field sanitary inspections on manufacturers of OEM food products that are imported'.
KFDA is moving forward with adopting a system that assigns inspection responsibilities to importers, such as strengthening responsibilities of importers of inappropriate food and issuing an order to inspect imported food products for which there is concern over their harmfulness.
- Focused prevention of food poisoning
A food poisoning response council, consisting of private and government officials, is operated to carry out food poisoning prevention activities at the national level.
To especially prevent food poisoning caused by norovirus infection which occurs irrespective of the season, KFDA is engaging in concentrated management, providing guidance, and inspecting facilities that use underground water, such as schools and teenager training centers.
To quickly respond to food accidents
- Automatically stop sales of harmful food products and provide subtitles on television on the recall of such products
Automatically stop sales of harmful food products through stores of key distributors, including Lotte Mart, Emart, Hyundai Department Store, Family Mart, and GS Retail.
When harmful food products that contain such dangerous substances as melamine are discovered, provide television subtitles on product information in real time through four television channels, including KBS.
- Operate a quick harmful food recall system
Quick countermeasures are taken against harmful food products by operating the ?food management status report system?, which allows comprehensive identification of the nationwide monitoring status.
Expand SMS services on harmful food information that are provided to citizens and food sellers across the nation, including supermarkets, and expand the traceability system for quick recall of harmful food products.
- Build a safety management network in the distribution and sales phase
Inspect agricultural, livestock, and marine products as well as processed food products available in the market with focus on harmful substances, including heavy metals and pesticide residues, and engage in concentrated monitoring of food products with a history of unsuitability and food products for which there is concern of harmfulness.
Food safety management in preparation for the future, including climate change
- The climate change-countering food safety management research? project team was launched to draw up food safety strategies.
A total of 12.5 billion won will be invested for five years, starting from 2010, to engage in food safety management research aimed at taking preemptive measures against climate change.
Carry out four key programs - ? Make food safety forecasts and impact assessments in relation to climate change; ? Analyze the influence of harmful factors and research how to manage them through climate change simulations; ? Develop food safety technologies and build a food safety management system in response to climate change; ? Raise citizens' awareness of the safety of climate change adaptation food products and build a relevant information system - and 23 sub-programs
- Develop and supply manufacturing technologies that prevent the waste of resources by minimizing the generation of harmful substances. This includes supplying manuals on manufacturing methods that reduce harmful substances (benzopyrene, MCPD, etc.) in the manufacturing phase of cooking oil, soy sauce, etc.
Improve the nation's reputation by advancing food safety
- Strengthen the nation's criteria to reach the level of advanced countries and international organizations, such as the European Union and Codex, with regards to pollutants and new types of harmful substances in food.
- Overhaul food additive ingredient standards and usage criteria so that they reach the level of advanced countries.
Create new standards and strengthen existing standards on harmful heavy metals, such as lead and cadmium, solvent residues, and microorganisms for 258 different food additives.
- Move forward with interfacing information systems that would allow real-time sharing of food safety information with countries that signed a food safety and sanitation agreement (MOU) with Korea, such as China and Vietnam.
Promote food safety and nutrition policies that citizens identify with
- Develop and disseminate an *individual nutrition management program ("Calorie Codi that is based on mobile phones.
- Adopt a consumer sanitation inspection system to encourage direct participation by consumers in food safety policies.
- Move forward with "reducing the consumption of sodium", making children's food products "zero trans fat", and reducing consumption of sugar and sodium.
KFDA has been continually carrying out R&D activities on safety management, such as that for food products, since 1998, when the Korea Food and Drug Safety Headquarter was raised to the status of administration. The program's objectives are to "build a preventive safety management system by setting scientific standards and engaging in safety assessments on hazardous substances in food and nutrition components that may be harmful in order to promote citizens' health and engage in food safety management at the level of advanced countries".
There are six key research areas (as of 2009).
1. Food safety management research: Conduct risk assessments to create new standards on harmful substances in food, establish a foundation to strengthen risk assessments, and develop testing methods.
Example) Research on safety evaluation of illegal, harmful substances in food, development of testing methods on pharmaceuticals for animals for which new standards need to be established, and research on developing a model that is suitable for Korea for conducting risk assessments on pesticide residues in food.
2. Safety management of nutritional, functional food: Research on genetically modified food inspection methods, research on food allergen indication and inspection methods, and establishment of standards on harmful substances in health and functional food products.
Example) Safety verification testing on genetically modified food, improvements to and establishment of methods used to analyze food additives in food products, and research on safety management for side effects of healthy, functional food.
3. Safety management of national antibiotic resistance: Assess the current status of antibiotic resistance (non-clinical), and hold a special committee on antibiotic resistance of Codex and engage in international cooperation-based research to come up with safety management measures.
Example) Research on the characteristics of harmfulness of Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA), a survey to ascertain consumer awareness of appropriate usage of antibiotics
4. Safety management of children's food products: Establishment of an integrated management network for children's food products and measures to ensure safety of children's food products.
Example) Research on reducing nutrition components in food that have the possibility of causing harm, research on setting the maximum vitamin and mineral content in health and functional food products for children, and research on establishing a dietary life environment that prevents obesity in children.
5. National monitoring system: Engage in prior monitoring activities to enact and amend standards and criteria, check if standards and criteria are observed, and conduct monitoring activities to reassess standards.
Example) Monitor heavy metals in vegetables, assess the existence of dioxins and PCBs in food, monitor PAHs in marine products, and research test methods on organo arsenics and inorganic arsenics in agricultural products and assess the current status.
6. Food safety management in relation to climate change: Research is carried out to device measures against an increase in harmful marine products resulting from a change in the marine ecosystem, owing to a rise in the sea surface temperature, and a rise in new types of food poisoning bacteria, including germs and viruses.
Example) Evaluate costs of social and economic losses in the area of food safety caused by climate change, and analyze what impact climate change has on food poisoning and research the relevant management system.
Achievements from research projects in 2009 include the following: ? Implementation of institutional improvements and enactment/amendment of standards and criteria: 80 cases; ? development of test methods: 88 cases; ? monitoring projects and establishment of an informatization foundation: 43 cases; ? education and PR activities on research results and spread of/support for technologies: 164 cases; ? development of guidelines, manuals, and handbooks: 37 cases.
Research project costs for the last three years: 13,930 million won (2008); 17,340 million won (2009); 17,510 million won (2010)
In Korea, consumers are highly interested in food safety and citizens' health. For this reason, there is high demand for satisfaction of consumers' right to know such as through food labeling. Accordingly, there have been frequent changes to labeling standards. Some have said that this causes inconveniences.
To make improvements:
- First, KFDA will implement a 'system of an integrated enforcement date for food labeling standards'. Irrespective of the number of times or timing of amendment to food labeling standards, a grace period of at least one year will be provided before enforcement of labeling standards, and there will be one integrated enforcement date a year. This system will address current inconveniences of sellers where they need to change the label on product packaging whenever labeling standards are changed and reduce their financial burden in this regard. In addition, relevant parties will know beforehand of the implementation of such administrative measures to result in a higher level of observance of regulations and resolution of civil complaints.
- Second, KFDA will thoroughly review whether amendments to food labeling standards have the possibility of triggering trade conflicts. It will also make notifications to the WTO and make efforts to actively incorporate opinions submitted by foreign countries.
- Third, KFDA will create an English version of the food labeling standards and provide it on KFDA's Website. It will do so in order to help exporting countries understand Korean labeling standards and to promote smooth trade activities. Considering that a full amendment will be made to food labeling standards this year, an English version will be provided after next year.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Interview: Mr. Christian Ehler, Chairperson of the European Parliament's Delegation to Korean Peninsula

In accordance with Rules 198 and 200 of Parliament's Rules of Procedure, the European Parliament may set up standing interparliamentary delegations, Parliamentary Cooperation Committees and Joint Parliamentary Committees. The number of these bodies may vary from one legislature to the other.
The interparliamentary delegations' main objective is to establish, channel and promote parliamentary dialogue with the partner countries' legislative institutions and also with the parliamentary institutions concerned with integration at regional or sub-regional level. Such objectives are achieved by means of regular gatherings at Parliament's places of work and in the counterpart countries, during which topics of mutual interest in the national, bi-regional and international spheres are discussed.
Information gathered is made available to Parliament's other Members by means of regular reports or reports drawn up by the chairman after each visit or interparliamentary meeting. The reports are usually submitted to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Human Rights Sub-Committee, Development, International Trade and when directly relevant to other Committees. They sometimes give rise to European Parliament resolutions.
The Delegation for relations with the Korean Peninsula covers relations with both States on the Peninsula: South Korea and North Korea.
The Korea Delegation is a young one. It was created with the 6th Parliamentary term in 2004. Before that South Korea-related activities fell in the remit of the Delegation for relations with the countries of Southeast Asia, ASEAN and the Republic of Korea, whereas North Korean affairs were dealt with in the Foreign Affairs Committee, which eventually sent limited ad hoc delegations. Interparliamentary meetings with South Korea were relatively frequent, considering the area covered by the Delegation.
The delegation holds regular meetings in Brussels and Strasbourg to examine matters such as the current economic and political situation in the Korean States, humanitarian and Human Rights issues, inter-Korean relations, regional security issues, as well as the negotiations between the EU and the South Korea on a Free Trade Agreement.
The Chairperson of the European Parliament's Delegation in the last term were successively Mrs Ursula Stenzl and Mr Hubert Pirker. The current Chairperson is Mr. Christian Ehler, who made his first visit to Korea in this capacity last month. While his schedule was packed, he did make time for an exclusive interview on the current state of relations between both sides.
He noted that this a very important period for the relationship. While everyone is anxiously talking about the impending EU-Korea FTA, the broad public has underestimated the importance of the new Framework Agreement on the relations between the EU and Korea which was signed recently.
He noted that the new Framework Agreement is an important step in the relations. It addresses a broad range of global issues and areas of international concern, which include non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, cooperation in the fight against terrorism, climate change, energy security and development assistance.
The text naturally includes standard political clauses - human rights, weapons of mass destruction, small arms and light weapons, counter-terrorism, the International Criminal Court and migration- and provisions for socio-economic cooperation, including cooperation in the field of justice. It provides a basis for deepening and broadening co-operation across the board.
He noted that together with an ambitious and comprehensive FTA this framework agreement will establish a good basis for strengthened partnership between the EU and Korea as global players. The delegation members therefore took this visit to South Korea very seriously.
“The delegation is very much in a working mood, and we are not here for a casual visit. We are in line with the European Commissions decision to choose Korea as a strategic partner in this region. It is of utmost importance that we create something like a new generation which is obliged to this new strategic partnership,he said.
He noted that the delegation wants to go beyond political and FTA talks and is seriously considering to create a young leadership program. It si pretty much for the same reason that the members also visited the SB Limotive plant, a 50:50 joint company of Samsung and Bosch, which targets to develop, manufacture, and sell lithium-ion batteries for automotive applications. With the formation of SB LiMotive both companies show their commitment to be a long term partner in the business of electrified mobility. SB LiMotive brings together the key skills to shape the future for automotive batteries by leveraging both world leading lithium-ion technology and automotive systems experience.
The scope of business covers lithium-ion battery applications for the automotive sector including オHEV, HEV, PHEV and EV.
This same kind of partnership should become visible in all spheres of the relationship between EU and Korea. Beyond agreements and political decisions, this is future of EU-Korea relations , a project like that in small scale should reach higher levels of penetration, he said.
Speaking on the EU-Korea FTA, he noted although the agreement was initialed last year, technically the text of agreement is not yet tabled in Parliament. They are in the process of being translated.
“We would proceed as we start first reading either before recession in July or the beginning of the next session in late August. Our political aim would be to deliver that before the G20 meeting in Korea. While very ambitious, atleast from the side of leadership of big groups, this is the timetable. It is upto the Commision and the Korean side to get the wordings of the agreement right,he said.
Mr. Ehler noted that the members we do not want to take FTA as a hostage to solve all other problems. He feels that in Korea there is awareness of this and hopefully it will be delivered by the end of the year.
He also referred to the recent tensions between South and North Korea, regarding the sinking of navyship Cheonan and said that he fully accepts the statement issued by High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Catherine Ashton.
She had voiced great concern of the results of the investigation, conducted by the authorities of South Korea with the participation of international experts, into the causes of the sinking of the Cheonan on 26th March, with the loss of 46 lives.
“The findings of the investigation are extremely disturbing, in particular the evidence presented of North Korean involvement. Based on these findings, I strongly condemn this heinous and deeply irresponsible action. I commend the restraint which the government of the Republic of Korea has shown in a tense situation of national grief and outrage,she said.
It was because of this strong feeling that the delegation skipped a visit to Pyongyang, and showed South Korea that they can live up to strategic partnership.
We don't want to exaggerate the EU position in the surrounding 6 party talks. But it does not make sense to shut down all channels, and we will continue with humanitarian assistance to North Korea, since the ordinary people are not to blame,he said.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Well said...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Interview: Minister of Foreign Affairs & Trade, Mr. Yu Myung-hwan

In an exclusive interview, Minister of Foreign Affairs & Trade Mr. Yu Myung-hwan spoke on the foreign policy orientation of the present government and the plans for the future.Excerpts:
>In today's increasingly globalizing world, new threats such as global financial crisis, terrorism, climate change, proliferation of WMD, pandemic diseases, etc. are emerging in addition to existing traditional security threats. As the new challenges have impact on every corner of the world, they present a clear need for the international community to work together in more cooperative and coordinated manners.
As a responsible shareholder in the international community, Korea's place in the changing environment calls for active role in addressing global common challenges. Korea, as one of emerging economies full of dynamics and equipped with democratic system, is poised to participate more actively and furnish greater contribution in global affairs.
>Against this backdrop, Korea envisions an open, dynamic and advanced "Global Korea" in the 21st century that would actively engage and cooperate with the international community and contribute to enhancing peace and co-prosperity of the world, transcending the boundaries of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia.
>For the year 2010, the Korean government has set the following key foreign policy tasks in order to make rapid strides toward bringing into reality its vision of "Global Korea"
>Korea will continue to broaden the horizon of its diplomatic relations beyond Asia. President Lee will make visits to the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Europe this year, following the "New Asia Initiative" which was adopted and actively implemented last year. In particular, the President will work toward establishing a "Strategic Partnership" with the EU upon the conclusion of the Korea-EU FTA and the Korea-EU Framework Agreement before the end of this year. The President has also actively engaged in global governance dialogues by attending the WEF Forum in Davos and the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington D.C, and in the same context will attend the upcoming Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore and the G20 Summit in Canada next month.
>The Fifth G20 Summit in Seoul will pave the way for institutionalizing the G20 Summit as a truly premier forum for international economic cooperation. The successful hosting of this Summit will provide a good opportunity to  reaffirm Korea’s place and role as a responsible shareholder in tackling and resolving important issues of the international community. To this end, the Presidential Committee for the G20 Summit is working closely with relevant government ministries and agencies to best prepare for the upcoming event in November.
>Korea will strive to increase its contribution to international development cooperation as a new OECD DAC member state. Furthermore, Korea will contribute to enhancing international efforts for peace-building and reconstruction of failed states through its expanded participation in UN PKO missions and operation of such PRT missions as in Afghanistan.
>Within this context, priorities will still be given to seeking substantial progress in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, maintaining peace and stability within the Korean peninsula, consolidating strategic relations with neighboring countries, providing support to create new engines of growth and strengthening future-oriented diplomatic capabilities and infrastructure to cope with the rapidly changing diplomatic environment of the 21st century.
>In response to the rapid proliferation of FTAs throughout the world, Korea has been actively pursuing its ambitious FTA policy since the conclusion of the first FTA in 2003 with Chile, and concluded high-level FTAs with major economies such as United States and the European Union(EU). As of June 2010, Korea has implemented five FTAs with sixteen nations, namely, Chile, Singapore, EFTA, ASEAN and India. In particular, the Korea-India CEPA(Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement), Korea’s first FTA with a BRICs country, entered into force on January 1
Korea is currently negotiating FTAs with eight trading partners: Australia, Peru, Colombia, Turkey, GCC, New Zealand, Canada and Mexico. Prior to launching official negotiations, Korea is also conducting preliminary talks or joint research projects with prospective partners, including China, Japan, MERCOSUR, Israel, Russia and Viet Nam. In particular, Korea, China and Japan started this May a joint feasibility study on a possible trilateral FTA.
This year, Korea is making great efforts to complete the on-going FTA negotiations, especially those with Australia, Peru, Colombia and Turkey. Korea aims to increase the share of the preferential trade with FTA partners up to 50% of its total trade in the near future, and by doing so, to become the East Asia hub in the global FTA network.
>The world economy, which suffered the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression in the 1930s, has overcome the crisis through active international cooperation through the G20.
The recovery has been faster than expected and the G20, which was launched in response to the economic crisis, is now seeking a new role. The G20 Seoul Summit will be held in this transition phase and has the opportunity to expand its role from that of crisis response to that of the management of the post-crisis global economy, solidifying its legitimacy as the premier forum for international economic cooperation.
For this purpose, the Seoul Summit will promote sustainable and balanced growth of the world economy, faithfully executing the G20’s goal of an international financial system that can prevent a recurrence of a crisis and strive for balanced economic growth that includes developing and emerging economies.
In this process, Korea is strengthening its cooperation with G20 countries and will also closely cooperate with non-G20 countries through outreach activities. It is expected that this will be an opportunity for Korea to expand its contribution, with the concerted efforts of the international community, to address global issues.
>The EU is now Korea's most significant partner in the economic field, as our second largest partner in trade volume and number one in investment. The Korea-EU trade volume accounts for 11.5% of Korea's total trade in 2009 and the EU investment into Korea during the same period accounts for 46% of the total inflow of investment into Korea.
In order to upgrade the Korea-EU relations to a Strategic Partnership, Korea and the EU agreed to conclude the "Framework Agreement" and the "FTA" on the occasion of the Korea-EU Summit in May last year.Now that the Framework Agreement has been signed, I look forward to the formal signing and entry into force of the Korea-EU FTA in the near future.
Moreover, the Korea-EU FTA will also serve as an important demonstration of the commitment on the part of Korea and the EU to trade liberalization,standing against protectionism in these times of global economic difficulties.And yet if Korea and the EU really are to forge a strategic partnership, in the true sense of the word, the European business community has a crucial role to play, particularly since we live in a time in which the economic and trade relations between countries are assuming ever increasing importance.In this respect, I hope for your continued interest and support for the Framework Agreement to take effect as well as for the FTA's formal signing and entry into force. These will indeed be valuable steps towards developing the Korea-EU relations into a genuine strategic partnership, not just in name but in reality.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Too yellow for your own good!

Check out this letter sent by the US Passport Center....they found this East Asian too yellow!!! What next, Indian's are too brown and the Africans too black?