Seoul has full potential to become Asias next financial center

Seoul has full potential to turn out to be Asia’s subsequent monetary heart: deputy mayor

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Hwang Bo-youn, Seoul’s deputy mayor for financial coverage (Seoul Metropolitan Government)

It was 2003, with South Korea nonetheless clinging to the euphoria of the 2002 World Cup, when the official highway map to creating Seoul Asia’s monetary heart was first introduced. Hope was within the air and it shortly grew to become a key job for present Mayor Oh Se-hoon, who beforehand served as town’s mayor from 2006 to 2011.

But the hurdles had been too excessive. Global monetary establishments had been delay by Korea’s inflexible labor market and tight, but considerably imprecise rules, regardless of the geopolitical benefit Seoul may supply. They shortly turned their eyes to Singapore, which lured them with profitable tax advantages and heat climate.

Today, Seoul is extra decided than ever to stroll the highway map and catch the eyes of traders and establishments leaving Hong Kong. The time is ripe, the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s level man on its monetary hub undertaking says.

“Hong Kong has been Asia’s main monetary heart, however with China tightening its grip on town, it’s coping with new dangers and challenges corresponding to an exodus of traders,” Hwang Bo-youn, Seoul’s deputy mayor for financial coverage, advised The Korea Herald in an interview on Thursday.

“Seoul is a number of steps behind Singapore and Tokyo timewise, however our capital can present monetary establishments and traders with one of the best setting for the state-of-the-art technological improvement. It has the total potential to turn out to be Asia’s subsequent monetary heart.“

That features a commercialized 5G community service — which is already shifting onto 6G — alongside clients who’re early adapters and powerful infrastructure for IT and AI-related applied sciences within the period of pay apps and digital banking, he added.

A serious step towards turning into a number one monetary heart would require easing rules and enhancing tax advantages for companies, in response to Hwang.

At the second, Seoul’s advantages are restricted to handing out discounted workplace areas to worldwide companies searching for to enter Korea. The five-year profit subsidizes 70 % of the hire and upkeep charges for choose companies on the International Finance Center positioned in Yeouido, the nation’s monetary hub. This is as a result of Seoul is certain below the Restriction Of Special Taxation Act, making it unable to present tax advantages to companies as a result of authorities’ intention to steadiness town’s energy with different areas.

This is about to vary, says Hwang, with President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol pledging to raise such restrictions on Yeouido, permitting the monetary district to entice world companies with tax advantages.

“The incoming president has vowed to designate Yeouido a particular financial zone, which is able to change every part,” Hwang stated.

“We plan to create a virtuous cycle of enterprise for the monetary establishments, the place tax advantages, housing and training for kids could be accessible in a single bundle for employers and staff.”

Hwang additionally addressed the nation’s inflexible labor market and legal guidelines together with the 52-hour workweek launched in 2018 to scale back lengthy working hours. According to the policymaking Financial Services Commission in 2020, the 52-hour legislation was a serious criticism shared by the CEOs of 17 native branches of world monetary establishments to then-chairman of the regulator Eun Sung-soo.

“I assist the 52-hour workweek, however the legislation was revised with out consideration of various sectors — it must turn out to be extra versatile,” he stated.

The Korean legislation requires all laborers no matter their positions and sectors to abide by the 52-hour restrict, besides fund managers and analysts. On the opposite, Hong Kong doesn’t have such labor restrictions in any respect, whereas Singapore makes exemptions relying on the particular person’s place inside the agency or their earnings.

On the intensifying rivalry with different cities searching for to earn the title of “Asia’s monetary hub” corresponding to Busan and Incheon, the deputy mayor expressed considerations.

“The authorities has been relocating key monetary establishments to different areas corresponding to Busan for steadiness, however the end result was that each Seoul and Busan misplaced their competitiveness as monetary hubs.”

Busan is presently within the means of constructing a mega 140,000-square-meter monetary city, whereas Incheon is attempting to draw extra purchasers to its Songdo International Business District.

“Major economies have just one metropolis that works as a monetary hub — it’s New York City for the US and London for the UK. To make Korea flourish within the world society, the problem wants to maneuver past an area rivalry between our cities.”

Hwang highlighted Seoul’s geopolitical benefit, robust infrastructure and town setting itself, which was mirrored on this 12 months’s Global Financial Centers Index. Seoul ranked a file No. 12 as of March this 12 months on the index, which evaluates competitiveness of monetary facilities primarily based on surveys and 150 components, with quantitative measures from the World Bank, the Economist Intelligence Unit, the OECD and United Nations. First printed in 2007 from assume tank Z/Yen Group in partnership with the China Development Institute, the index named New York the world’s prime monetary heart.

“In this 12 months’s rating, Beijing is ranked No. 8, with Tokyo and Shenzhen every coming at No. 9 and No. 10 — it signifies that Seoul got here at No. 12 regardless of the rules which have labored as a handicap for Seoul from rising as a monetary hub,” Hwang defined.

“There is not any different metropolis like Seoul. It’s geopolitically near different capitals in Asia and a cluster of future expertise — it might probably assist monetary establishments make headway into the long run.”

By Jung Min-kyung (mkjung@heraldcorp.com)



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() Hwang Bo-youn, Seoul’s deputy mayor for financial coverage (Seoul Metropolitan Government) It was 2003, with South Korea nonetheless clinging to the euphoria of the 2002 World Cup, when the official highway map to creating Seoul Asia’s monetary heart was first introduced. Hope was within the air and it shortly grew to become a key…