The Korea Herald


Corporate Korea pins high hopes on Yoon’s push for small government

Business lobbies call for eased regulations, flexibility in labor market

By Lee Ji-yoon

Published : March 10, 2022 - 14:40

    • Link copied

President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol speaks during a press conference held at the National Assembly in Yeouido, Seoul, Thursday. (Yonhap) President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol speaks during a press conference held at the National Assembly in Yeouido, Seoul, Thursday. (Yonhap)
South Korea’s business lobby groups on Thursday welcomed Yoon Suk-yeol, a conservative opposition leader who has pledged to pursue a small government and ease regulations, as the nation’s next president.

The 61-year-old former prosecutor won an extremely tight race earlier in the day, bringing conservatives back to power in five years. He will replace President Moon Jae-in, a progressive leader whose single five-year term ends in May.

The Korea Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business lobby representing some 190,000 companies, called on Yoon to create a business-friendly environment amid growing uncertainties around supply chain disruptions and geopolitical risks.

“We ask the president-elect to seek private-led economic growth as he has stressed and to create a more business-friendly environment by carrying out reforms on regulations, labor and education,” the KCCI said in a statement.

The Korea Enterprises Federation also issued a congratulatory message, saying: “We ask to enhance flexibility in the labor market and abolish regulations so that companies can safely invest and generate quality jobs.”

The Korea Federation of SMEs, a lobby for smaller businesses, urged renewed efforts to reduce the widening gap between large and smaller firms here, citing Yoon’s campaign pledges to amend Moon’s hallmark policies, like the 52-hour workweek and the new industrial safety law.

“Most of our key requests are reflected in Yoon’s campaign pledges. We are asking to carry out the pledges as promised under his presidency,” the group said.

During his campaign, Yoon criticized the liberal Moon government for pursuing state-led economic growth, saying the economic paradigm should be completely changed. Yoon said the change should be led by the private sector and innovation, not by the government.

With easing regulations topping his campaign agenda, he promised to set up a separate team solely dedicated to handling reforms of some 80 regulations across industries.

“The government’s role should be limited to helping upgrade antique infrastructure that cannot be done by the private sector and building fair and transparent systems that earn trust from the market,” Yoon said in a speech at the KCCI’s headquarters last month.

In the meantime, the Korea International Trade Association asked Yoon to take preemptive measures to respond to growing calls for carbon neutrality and to protect local exporters amid trade protectionism in major markets such as the US and China.

Foreign business groups also issued statements to celebrate Yoon’s election.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Korea said it is confident that the president-elect will continue to recognize the value of the South Korea-US alliance and bolster bilateral commercial and economic ties.

The European Chambers of Commerce in Korea expressed high hopes for future partnerships as well. 

By Lee Ji-yoon and Hong Yoo