Send to

Gyeonggi governor urges sweeping changes to survive uncertainties

At Korea Herald forum, German ambassador to Korea stresses readiness for trade protectionism, demographic changes

May 30, 2024 - 16:43 By Shim Woo-hyun
Gyeonggi Gov. Kim Dong-yeon speaks at The Korea Herald’s Global Business Forum, held at the Floating Island Convention Center on the Han River in Seoul on Wednesday. (Gyeonggi Provincial Government)

The Korea Herald on Wednesday hosted its weekly Global Business Forum (GBF) under the theme “Age of Hyper-Uncertainty: Global Business Opportunities and Trends,” with Gyeonggi Governor Kim Dong-yeon and German Ambassador to Korea Georg Schmidt in attendance as the key speakers.

In his welcoming speech, Ambassador Schmidt stressed that the world’s advanced economies, including Germany and South Korea, are faced with similar challenges such as trade protectionism, geopolitical tensions, low fertility rates and the climate crisis.

“The two countries are at the moment in very stormy waters,” Schmidt said, adding that more geopolitical issues and rising protectionism are putting pressure on their export-driven economies.

“I believe that we have an interest in preserving as much as possible a liberal trade regime between like-minded countries.”

He also urged readiness for demographic changes, saying “Germany and Korea could be frontrunners in developing products and solutions which may be in high demand in other large aging countries as well.”

German Ambassador to Korea Georg Schmidt delivers his welcoming speech at The Korea Herald’s Global Business Forum. (The Korea Herald)

Governor Kim, a former finance minister, echoed the ambassador’s view in his special lecture that followed the welcoming speech.

“The world's economic order is completely reshaping amid hegemonic war, nationalism and protectionism,” he said. “Korea should see itself within the rapidly changing economic landscape to survive.”

Kim noted Korea’s economy is having a tough time, citing its slowing growth rate and dwindling average household income.

He said his Gyeonggi Province government is making all-out efforts to contribute to the country’s economic growth.

“Gyeonggi Province is a microcosm of South Korea. If Gyeonggi Province changes, Korea will also change,” Kim said.

According to him, Gyeonggi Province alone was ranked as the 35th largest economy in the world last year, whereas South Korea was ranked 17th. Home to massive semiconductor clusters of Samsung Electronics and SK hynix, the world’s top two memory chip makers, the province creates 82 percent of the nation’s total added value from chip production.

The province also boasts its manpower with around 14 million people, about 27 percent of the total population.

Kim’s ultimate goal is to secure 100 trillion won in foreign investment during his tenure. As of 2023, the province has attracted around 50 trillion won of investment, and the figure reached 62 trillion won in recent months.

“Artificial Intelligence was a key theme at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting 2024. Around 80 percent of the technology sessions dealt with AI. The world’s leaders agreed that AI will have impacts not only in businesses but also in politics, economy, education and social realms,” he said.

“We have created a separate department for AI, the first attempt made among local governments, to make better use of AI in government services.”

He also pledged to tackle the climate crisis, encouraging businesses to boost carbon-neutral efforts.

Wednesday’s GBF forum was also attended by Jung Won-joo, chairman of Herald Media Group and Daewoo Engineering & Construction; Choi Jin-young, president of Herald Media Group; and Kim Tai-yoo, an honorary professor at Seoul National University.