Wed, 19 Mar 2003

Korean firms still interested in RI

Zakki Hakim, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

South Korean companies remain interested in investing in Indonesia, which boasts huge reserves of natural resources, the head of a visiting trade mission said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a press conference, Hyuk Kyu Min said South Korean investors wanted to take over the role previously played by Japanese investors in Indonesia.

He also urged the Indonesian government to continue working to improve the investment climate here.

"Most likely, more Japan companies will relocate their investments to neighboring countries. But many South Korean companies are very interested in cooperating with locals and investing in the country," Min said, referring to recent reports of Japanese companies moving their operations out of Indonesia and into neighboring countries.

Min is also the governor of South Korea's Gyeongnam province, home to many of the country's largest companies, including Samsung, Daewoo, LG, Hyundai and Doosan.

Currently, there are some 570 South Korean companies operating in Indonesia, employing at least 500,000 workers or about 0.6 percent of the country's total labor force.

Their total investment in the country has reached US$10 billion.

Last year, Indonesia exported some $240 million worth of goods to Gyeongam province, while imports from the province were about $180 million.

Min said the trade surplus for Indonesia would likely increase this year, particularly if there is war in Iraq, which would result in increased oil and gas prices. Gyeongnam imports some oil and gas from Indonesia.