By Kim Da-ye
The Busan Jinhae Free Economic Zone (BJFEZ) achieved the highest score in a performance evaluation of the three free economic zones (FEZs) in Incheon, Busan-Jinhae and Gwangyang, the BJFEZ authority announced Monday.
The evaluation took place on Aug. 27 this year for the first time since the designation of three FEZs in 2003. The government recently expressed concerns regarding the poor progress made by the FEZs in attracting foreign direct investment and developing the zones. The assessment was conducted to encourage more competition among the FEZs and improve their performance.
The BJFEZ received 73.3 points or a rating of B Class while the Incheon Free Economic Zone achieved 64.9 also a C Class and the Gwangyang Free Economic Zone got 69.1 or C Class. The 10-independent-member committee examined planning, management and achievement of the three FEZs.
The Busan-Jinhae FEZ was told by the committee that it specialized well in the distribution industry taking advantage of their location centered around the New Port, Hwajeon District and West Busan Distribution District and had succeeded in inviting manufacturing firms. But depending on the developers’ circumstances, some projects faced troubles in pushing ahead.
For the Gwangyang FEZ, while the businesses are concentrated around the bay area it has failed to attract much foreign direct investment since 2007. In the case of the Incheon FEZ, the committee said that the goal for the “Northeast Asian Business Hub” had been well-defined, but the purpose and functions of various districts within the zone overlap each other and the lax development resulted in inefficiency.
The government said that it will refer to the scores from the evaluation to determine its financial support for the FEZs, how to award incentives to outstanding employees and other policy-related measures. For instance, each FEZ will received a different budget from the state coffers ― Busan-Jinhae will receive 779 milllion won, Incheon nearly 690 million won and Gwangyang 734 million won.
Korea has so far invested 85.4 trillion won into six FEZs ― as large as 571 square kilometers in total ― including the Yellow Sea, Daegu/Gyeongbuk and Samangeum/Gunsan, according to the government task force formed to vitalize the FEZs.