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S. Korea vows to meet 'global standard' for inclusion in WGBI

Feb. 9, 2023 - 09:35 By Yonhap

South Korea will continue to revamp its market policies to attract more foreign investors to join the World Government Bond Index this year, the finance ministry said Thursday.

The remark came after Second Vice Finance Minister Choi Sang-dae held a meeting with David Sol, the global head of London-based FTSE Russell, which operates the index Wednesday.

The WGBI is a broad index designed to measure the performance of government bond markets, including local currencies and sovereign bonds of major advanced nations. Asia's No. 4 economy made it to the "watchlist" in September 2022.

South Korea has recently been making efforts to ease market regulations, including announcing its plan to abolish the existing mandatory registration policy for foreigners investing in listed securities.

The country also began exempting taxes on interest income and capital gains for non-residents and foreign companies' investment in Treasurys and monetary stabilization bonds.

Earlier this week, the country also announced it will extend the operating hours of its foreign exchange market -- which currently runs for 6 1/2 hours from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. -- to 17 hours to close at 2 a.m. the day after, as early as the second half of 2024.

During the meeting, Choi requested FTSE Russell to acknowledge South Korea's efforts to improve its market policies, during the process of evaluating the country's qualification to join the index this year.

On the margins of the visit, the finance ministry hosted a roundtable with investors based in Britain as well, inviting institutions that include Ashmore Investment Management, Bluebay Asset Management and HSBC GAM.

"South Korea is seeking to join the WGBI and improve its investment environment for foreigners that comes in line with global standards, and advance its bond market by diversifying the demand," the ministry said, pointing out that the move will also help in easing the so-called "Korea discount" on the won-denominated bonds. (Yonhap)