On the occasion of ITU Telecom Asia 2004, Busan Metropolitan Government is betting that the city's local IT businesses will propel it toward a brighter economic future. The City of Busan is sparing no efforts to ensure that hosting of the exhibition will be entirely successful. The Korea IT Times spoke with Lee Young-hwal, director general of the City's Economic Promotion Bureau about the strengths of the Busan IT industry and the City's expectations of the ITU event.
by Yeo Hong-il, Editor / firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. What advantages does Busan have that lure foreign investment into the city
Fortune Magazine selected Busan as one of the most attractive city environment for doing corporate business in Asia in 1998. In 2000, Asia Week picked Busan as one of the best 10 cities to live in Asia. Busan is not only the second-largest city in Korea, but also the largest container handling port in the country and the third largest in the world, with potential for even more growth.
Furthermore, the city will consider offering administrative support such as cutting through red tape, giving cash grants, tax breaks and subsidies to foreign investors.
Q. What role does the city of Busan play in terms of economics, both inside and outside of Korea
Busan has served as a driving force of Korean industrial development since it opened as Korea's first international port. The city serves as a major portal for national exports and played a central role in the development of the fishery industry. Now it serves as the lynchpin of the Southeast economic zone, which is as important, in relative terms, as the industrial belt around the capital, Seoul.
In 2000, the city became the thirdlargest container port, so manifesting its important status in the international arena. The Busan city administration is promoting several projects in an effort to make the city the integrated logistical hub of East Asia.
These projects include establishing Busan Port Authority, constructing Busan New Port, designating a Customs Free Zone around the new port, housing a London Metal Exchange (LME) warehouse, and building LME District Park around Gamcheon Port.
Q. How will the city government support related businesses to enhance the city's IT industry-oriented environment
The city is willing to give maximum amount of assistance possible to nurture the IT industry because we believe IT will be the core industry of the city for the next generation, as it holds huge potential for future growth. The region's IT industry policies this year will focus on the digital content and maritime IT industries.
Busan metropolitan city government and the Busan IT Industry Promotion Agency plan to invest 4 billion won (roughly $347 million) this year alone in the region's sagging IT industries. Hosting ITU (International Telecommunication Union) Telecom Asia is one of our numerous efforts to foster the IT industry.
Q. Is there any industry other than IT that the city government is promoting as a major growth engine
Certainly, the digital contents industry will be one of them. According to our fiscal plan, the city will invest 150 million won in the industry. In particular, the "Busan Digital Content Festival" is expected to contribute to the region's digital contents industry, featuring as it will, events such as digital content exhibitions, promotions and competitions as well as an international conference and an on-line game competition. The city and the agency will also help individual digital content companies by organizing an enentertainment forum, building a testing environment for on-line products like games and mobile content, and assisting the companies in their marketing efforts.