The KABC Second Chance Korea Business Forum

Managing a Foreign Company in Korea in Q3 2021

8.00am – 9.30am, 5 October 2021 in Online Seminar Room

For our September session we discussed those issues which particularly affect foreign managed companies in the second half of 2021.   This was based partly on a series of interviews with foreign major companies in Korea. The issues discussed were:

  • Uncertainty about government policy in 2022 onwards depending on who is elected President
  • Covid-19 policy and duration of the epidemic
  • Supply chain problems
  • Uncertainty about stability and security in Northeast Asia
  • Estimating the next normal in terms of office management and digitization
  • Labour relations
  • Climate policy

How important these issues were depended partly on the business area of the foreign organization and its position in its life cycle.  The second chance meeting is an opportunity for those who missed the first session, or who had to drop out early from the September meeting.  With a smaller group it tends to be more intimate but still takes 30 minutes less than the first session.

Notes on the topics discussed are as follows:

  • Uncertainty about the next President’s policies: it seems that Governor Lee Jae-myung is likely to be the DP presidential candidate who will offer a stark choice with whoever is proposed by the PPP.  The PPP are in trouble with their selection process.   Governor Lee has UBI on his mind after experimenting in Gyeonggi-do, but has also done great work with the municipalities and companies in Korea.  What to expect?
  • Pandemic continues: we are now near the peak of the fourth wave with record highs in daily infections and yet the government is talking about “living with Covid” by the end of October, with huge dangers of overrun medical services.
  • Security in Northeast Asia: the world has gone from a thriving global integrated system in 2019 to one that threatens to be bimodal as President Biden follows Trump with tariffs and bans on more Chinese companies. China is also restructuring its economy and apparently its society.   No one is certain what this means for the many foreign companies that produce machinery in China for Korea or ship Korean intermediates to China.   After the abandonment of Afghanistan by the west, how sure is anyone that the US will maintain stability in the region?
  • Supply chain issues: the world has gone from JIT to a slower pace in that ships take longer to get from A to B, containers and ships are often in the wrong place and freight rates have tripled. More working capital is being employed to handle this. How should this be managed?
  • Estimating the next normal: How much of the changes of the last twenty months will stick? Will more work be done at home, will business travel be replaced by zooming, will the rush to AI and digital sales accelerate?  Can we get the right employees for this transition?  Have our salesmen and account executives changed their procedure appropriately?
  • Labour relations: there are several trends afoot, these include catch up moves by unions for low increases in 2020, the desire for a later retirement age, and at the same time discontent amongst younger workers about the wage differential with older workers.trouble with the wage peak
  • Policy Changes due to Climate Controls: How quickly will the government change the rules on energy, buildings and waste?

Please join us to discuss these issues as they relate to foreign organisations operating in Korea.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Michell
Managing Director, KABC Ltd.


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