The Saemangeum Gunsan Free Economic Zone (SGFEZ) Authority plans to attract new and renewable energy and advanced parts and material companies, a top official of the authority said.
"We are planning to actively attract natural energy-related companies such as hybrids, fuel cells, wind power, solar energy and green resources; and auto parts, machinery, shipbuilding and other parts & material companies to the free economic zone," said Lee Choon-hee, commissioner of SGFEZ Authority.
In an interview with the Korea IT Times, he said, "To create high-end industrial estate centering on green manufacturing companies, we will also build manufacturing cluster in this region in Gunsan, North Jeolla Province."
To this end, the authority projects to attract two or three anchor enterprises and research centers by each sector of green industry first, Lee said, adding that it will later lure 20-30 more related companies in each sector, activating the free economic zone.
"Related to this, we already requested a research center to analyze investment environment in this zone and map out strategies to attract future-oriented companies and investors, as well as PR & marketing plans by the end of February in 2010," said the commissioner.
In July 2009, the authority invited 20 experts in green technology, advanced parts and materials and high value added industries and launched the investment attraction consultation committee.
They will map out strategies to attract investment, offer policy consultations, find out investors through construction of network to lure investment, and provide investment information during their tenure of two years.
At the same time, they will exert best efforts to enhance international competitiveness of the zone by working out differentiated strategies and models to attract foreign investment, creating conditions for foreign investors to reside comfortably, and offering differentiated incentives.
Under the vision of building the hub of business frontier in East Asia, the authority will spend a total of W5.1 trillion to create five districts - the Saemangeum industrial estate, the Saemangeum tourism district, the Gogunsan Gundo international ocean tourism estate, the Gunjang state-run industrial estate and the Gunsan City rear district - during the 2008-2020 period.
About W1.9 trillion will be spent to build the Saemangeum industrial district, which will house facilities related to international business, R&D projects and industrial production.
In particular, the authority plans to attract knowledge-creative industries, including future-oriented automobiles, aviation, shipbuilding, machinery and high-tech parts & materials, and environment-friendly industries, such as wind power, solar energy, fuel cell, and bio, Lee said.
Meanwhile, a golf course, a theme park, hotels, condominiums and a convention center will be built in the Saemangeum tourism district.
The authority plans to develop the tourism district into an eco-friendly waterfront in order to maximize synergy effects by linking the district with neighboring tourism resources, the commissioner said.
The Gogunsan Gundo international ocean tourism estate will house a marina, an ecology and ocean museum, hotels and condominiums to attract foreign tourists, especially from China, he said.
Strong Points of the SGFEZ
Asked about merits of the SGFEZ, Commissioner Lee said, "Geographically, it is located in the center of the pan-Yellow Sea bloc linking the world's giant markets, including China, Japan and Russia. There are 43 big cities with population of over 1 million won within less than two-hour flight from the economic zone."
"One of the biggest advantage of the free economic zone is its spacious and affordable land, providing a long-term lease up to 100 years to domestic and foreign companies," Lee said, stressing that no other free economic zones in the country offer such extensive and generous lease terms.
At present, the reclaimed areas are not bound by any private ownership and pertinent regulations, backing the SGFEZ's position that its leasing process is simpler and faster than those of other similar ventures in the country.
"Along with this, we offer eased regulations on income and corporate taxes for foreign investors for the first seven years of business and give cash incentives amounting to 5 percent of the total investment per corporation," he said.
The authority also established online one-stop service portals and call centers in various parts of Saemangeum to facilitate administrative procedures for potential domestic and foreign investors.
Korea launched the SGFEZ Authority in August 2008 to oversee the construction of the SGFEZ and develop administrative services for the domestic and overseas businesses to be housed there.
One of key reasons for establishing a free economic zone in the southwestern coast is closely associated with Korea's urgent need to compete with China, one of the world's fastest growing economies.
"The economic rise of China has opened Korea's eyes to the strategic importance of nurturing the business potentials of the West Sea area by establishing high-tech industries," Lee said.
Question: Would you introduce the Gateway development project for the Saemangum tourism district
Answer: As a leading project to develop the Saemangum tourism district into a world-famous high-end city, we will build public and convenient facilities in the starting area of the Saemangeum seawall.
On a short-term basis, we will establish parking lots, convenient facilities, commercial and lodging facilities, and sports centers in the district. On a long-term basis, meanwhile, we will build a theme park, a water park, condominiums, luxury outlets, hotels and other public and convenient facilities.
Q: The key to the success of a free economic zone is to expand tourism facilities and attract investors from home and abroad. Do you have any ideal plan to attract domestic and foreign investment
A: We are now developing models and products, which can satisfy investors' demands. As an initial step, we will develop a scientific profitable model jointly with KOTRA and suggest objective and systematic investment materials to investors.
Related to this, we also concluded a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on financial assistance with Industrial Bank of Korea CEO Yoon Yong-ro in July 2009.
Along with this, we will dispatch a team to attract investment to domestic and foreign companies with high investment potential, hold a series of explanatory meetings and investment exhibitions.
Q: Would you explain about the future plans of SGFEZ related to development and attraction of investors
A: We participated in the 2009 investment forum for foreigners, which was held under the joint management of the Ministry of Knowledge Economy and KOTRA from Nov. 5 to Nov. 6, and held an explanatory meeting to introduce investment environment of SGFEZ to both domestic and foreign investors.
At the same time, we participated in the MIPIM Asia 2009, the biggest real estate development fair in Asia, which was held in Hong Kong on Nov. 18-20, and visited the United States to attend an investment explanatory meeting for 30 potential US investors in New York on Nov. 17-21.
We also have a plan to organize more investment explanatory meetings in Europe and the U.S. to attract foreign investors to SGFEZ.