Kim Sang-hoon, a research fellow at the Korea Federation of SMEs, proposed building a second Gaesong Industrial Complex in and around Rajin that can grow into a next-generation center of Northeast Asia and a key place to advance into the Pacific and launch a combined logistics and export-type assembly processing base at the "New Korean Economic Map Forum" held at the headquarters of the Korea Federation of SMEs in Seoul on March 14. Kim pointed out that urgently needed were the separation of politics and economy, private enterprises’ leadership in the second Gaesong Industrial Complex project, inter-Korean economic cooperation, compensation for loss from trade and an improvement in the insurance system.
SMEs also expressed their consensus about the resumption of the Gaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea and a need for the establishment of a second Gaesong Industrial Complex. Some participants suggested that other areas should be reviewed in addition to Rajin.
"As a businessman, I think that it is necessary to consider Sinuiju apart from Rajin and Sonbong as a candidate for a second Gaeseong Industrial Complex," said Yoon Yeo-doo, vice chairman of the Korea Federation of SMEs and chairman of the federation’s Unification Committee. "When we comprehensively checked the industrial locations of major cities in North Korea, Sineuiju is not only the best, but also has great potential as a western belt for economic cooperation linked to Liaoning Province in China."
In addition to the construction of a second Kaesong Industrial Complex, researcher Kim also proposed opening a center for inter-Korean technical education in the DMZ, developing the far eastern area of Russia such as railway and road connection, building a factory network centered on the textile industry and building a raw material production and supply complex and establishing a center to support processing on commission among South and North Korea and China.
"SMEs are economic subjects which participated in inter-Korean economic cooperation such as the Gaeseong Industrial Complex," said Cho Bong-hyun, deputy head of the IBK Economic Research Institute. "The roles of SMEs should also be included in a new economy map for the Korean Peninsula."
"We are not considering the creation of a second Gaesong Industrial Complex but will consider it prudently as it is a meaningful policy proposal," said Lee Seung-won, a deputy head of the Northern Economic Cooperation Committee under the President during the forum.
"The role of SMEs in relation to the Korean Peninsula's new economy is very important," unification minister Cho said. "As inter-Korean economic cooperation injected energy into South Korean SMEs, inter-Korean cooperation will provide opportunities for the growth of the Korean industry. The government will make preparations for cooperation through the creation of the new economic map step by step."
In the meantime, the forum was held to achieve a consensus on a new economic map for the Korean Peninsula, "one of the 100 national projects” pursued by the Moon Jae-in administration and explore the roles of small and medium-sized enterprises related to economic cooperation at a time when inter-Korean relations are thawing.