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European firms ‘optimistic’ about doing business in Korea: survey

Business Confidence Survey 2020 (European Chamber of Commerce in Korea)
Business Confidence Survey 2020 (European Chamber of Commerce in Korea)

European companies operating here are generally optimistic over Seoul’s growing importance as business venue but also pointed out the rigid regulatory environment, the European Chamber of Commerce in Korea said Monday.

According to the Business Confidence Survey 2020, 51 percent of respondents said that South Korea’s strategic importance is increasing, while 41 percent replied that its importance remains the same as before. A year earlier, only 34 percent recognized the country’s growing existence.

The corresponding business survey, conducted jointly with 10 European national chambers and Roland Berger Seoul, took place in January this year with 127 executives of European companies operating in Korea. The participating companies pool represented over 47,000 employees and a total turnover of 65 trillion won ($57.5 billion). Also, about 80 percent of the participating companies have been active here for more than a decade.

While 63 percent of the respondents expressed overall satisfaction with their business performance in Korea, a sweeping 91 percent said that they will increase or at least maintain the volume of investment and operational expenses.

However, 63 percent also pointed out that doing business in Korea has become difficult over the past two years, citing the legislative environment and discretionary enforcement of regulations.

As for the Korean government’s continued attempts at reform, 46 percent of the respondents said that such moves did not help their business operations.

Looking ahead to a challenging year, companies cited factors such as the uncertainty from the resurgence of COVID-19, labor policy burden, and global trade risks. Nevertheless, 45 percent of the respondents predicted that economic conditions will improve this year.

The Business Confidence Survey has been conducted since 2014 to gauge the European companies’ perceptions towards the business environment here.

“We hope that the survey serves as a useful tool for businesspeople and policymakers in making decisions that will benefit both Korean and European companies,” said ECCK President Christoph Heider.

Established in 2012, the ECCK serves as a business association of EU-based companies operating in Korea and currently consists of 360 member companies.

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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