Daegu Gyeongbuk Free Economic Zone (DGFEZ) is actively pushing ahead with ambitious projects to become a hub of knowledge-based industries in Northeast Asia, a top administrator of the DGFEZ Authority said.
“In keeping with the global paradigm, knowledge-based economic system, we will actively attract knowledge-based industries and build their networks to create a knowledge-creative free economic zone in the southeastern city of Daegu and adjacent areas in North Gyeongsang Province,” said Park In-cheol, commissioner of the DGFEZ Authority. Daegu is the nation's fourth largest city after Seoul, Busan and Incheon. In an interview with Korea IT Times, Park stated, “Major economic special zones in the world, including those in Singapore, Ireland and Dubai, are developing into knowledge-type special economic zones. In line with this global trend, we will build a cluster centering on excellent universities and research centers.”
“To attract large-scale high-tech foreign firms and R&D centers, hospitals and universities, the DGFEZ now provides sites free of charge for 50-100 years,'' Park added, stressing the incentives to be extended by the zone to minimize the cost of doing business in the region. He also said that a new international airport will be built in the Gyeongsang region to connect the DGFEZ to the world.“We are going all out to establish a comprehensive cluster of knowledge-based industries and research centers in this free economic zone,” remarked the top administrator.
Propulsion of DGFEZ development projects
The DGFEZ, comprising 11 districts in Daegu, Gyeongsan, Yeongcheon, Gumi and Pohang, is striving to attract medical, educational and cultural service providers as well as high-tech manufacturers and researchers both domestic and abroad. The giant 4,608 billion won project started last year and is set for completion in 2020. Five of the 11 districts, including the Dalseong Technopolis District, have started initial construction procedures, while authorities will engage in negotiations with domestic and overseas investors during the latter half of 2009. It is also actively pushing ahead with developing the remaining six districts, including Yeongcheon High Tech and Kumi Digital.
The DGFEZ includes several major complexes such as the Seongseo Fifth High Tech Industrial Complex in Daegu, focusing on automotive, electronics and information & communication sectors. The International Fashion & Design District will house global design research centers and textile businesses. The Yeongcheon High Tech Parts and Materials Industry District will be devoted to developing hybrid machinery. Other major constituents of the DGFEZ are the Suseong Medical District, Gumi Digital Industry, Gyeongsan Education & Research and the Pohang Tech Industry District. The Dalseong Technopolis District in Daegu is one of the most ambitious projects of the DGFEZ. Set for completion in 2012, it will be built in a way that will distinguish itself from the nation's main R&D hub - Daedeok Science Town in Daejeon.
The commissioner said, “Research facilities in Daejeon have focused on basic science studies. But, our research centers will have more industrial connections because they will be devoted to creating hybrid automotive parts, robots, new & renewable energies, and mobile communication."
The project for the technopolis district was launched in March on a space of about 400,000 pyeong (1,322 sq km). Meanwhile, construction of the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute, Korea Institute of Industrial Technology and National Daegu Center of Science is scheduled to begin this year. Along with this, the DGFEZ plans to create an academic cluster through hosting branch schools of institutions of international recognition.
Commissioner Park said, “Daegu is a geographically proper region to house the above functions, particularly considering its outstanding pool of existing human resources and the city's long history of science and technology education.” In fact, the Daegu-North Gyeongsang area is home to 51 universities, making up 14 percent of the total number of universities in the country. "Annually, they produce a potential workforce of 70,000 students with quality education," he said, adding that about 1,700 of them are science majors with expertise in information technology, biotechnology and nanotechnology. He also said that many large companies with high international reputation, including Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor and POSCO, are operating businesses in the region.
Differentiated strategy to attract investment
“The DGFEZ is employing differentiated strategies to attract the world’s top-class foreign hospitals and schools by making the best use of its excellent medical service and education infrastructure,” said Park. He emphasized that a key of the DGFEZ is building a center of education of global standards. On May 19, the DGFEZ became the first of its kind in Korea to initiate the construction of an international school.
Noting that human resources equipped with professional skills and global perspectives, not just in business but in all areas, are needed to make DGFEZ a hub of knowledge-based industries in Northeast Asia, Park said, “We will provide good educational opportunities for foreign nationals in the area.'' “At the same time, we will concentrate our efforts on attracting global high tech enterprises in the IT, auto parts, information & communication, textile & fashion, and new and renewable energy sectors,” he said. Park said, “Related to this, we are now mapping out differentiated strategies on contents, anchor facilities, and target companies with global consulting agencies.”
Following are the main contents of the interview with
Q: Would you comment on the merits and disadvantages of the DGFEZ
A: DGFEZ boasts of an excellent geographical location where people can reach 51 cities in the world with a population of over 1 million within 4 hours by plane. It is also adjacent to the world’s big IT and automobile industrial estates in Pohang, Ulsan, Gumi and Changwon. Above all, it has affluent manpower and a stabilized labor-management culture. The 52 universities in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province produce some 70,000 highly-educated people annually. And, for the first time in Korea, the three parties - labor, management and the government - made a joint declaration for the settlement of a stable labor-management culture. Meanwhile, its shortcomings are a concentration of major companies on metropolitan area, insufficient structural reform of traditional industries, including textile, outflow of top-class manpower, shortage of international airport facilities and inconvenience in use of harbors.
Q: Would you talk about the results of the strategy to attract foreign investment and future prospects
A: As a blueprint to attract foreign companies to the DGFEZ, we concluded contracts with such global consulting firms as Deloitte Consulting, Samil PWC, Samjeong KPMG and E&Y Hanyoung this year. At the same time, we signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Economic Development Office of India’s Gujarat State in November last year for bilateral cooperation. We have also contracted a MOU with Barcelona University of Spain to promote an exchange of manpower. In the latter half of this year, we plan to hold overseas IR and road shows in Japan and Southeast Asian regions to attract promising investors and world-famous companies.
Q: Do you have any plan to create environment favorable for foreign investors
A: To create foreigner-friendly climate in the DGFEZ, we will operate real estate agencies exclusively for foreigners. Korea Communications Commission will also provide an English radio broadcast for foreign residents in Daegu from October this year. Under close cooperation with Daegu City, we also plans to attract the 2011 world track and field championships and the 2013 world energy general meetings to the DGFEZ.