The Korea Times reports that American investment in South Korea during the first four months of this year is off 71.7% from last year's initial four month total. The United States accounted for 32.1% of all inbound investment during the first quarter, also down from 58.5% from the same period last year. What got me, however, was the explanation given in the Times:
However, U.S. investors have been slow to invest in Korea owing to increased risks from the U.S.-led war against Iraq, North Korea's nuclear standoff and U.S. economic slowdown, according to MOCIE [Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy].Why, golly gee... I would have guessed that anti-Americanism, labor radicalism, inconsistent government policy, corruption, and an investment environment that's generally hostile to foreign ownership of anything had more to do with the slowdown in American investment than Iraq. Shows you how much I know - glad we have such sharp officials at the MOCIE to set me straight.
Oh, in what is apparently a completely unrelated story, the Times is also reporting that 66,000 unionized workers walked off their jobs yesterday. Autoworkers, teachers, textile workers, and others launched one-day strikes, demanding pay hikes and basic labor rights for irregular workers - among other things. Also unrelated, Fitch Ratings warned yesterday that continued strikes, Seoul's
woeful labor policy, financial and banking concerns, and geopolitical tensions may drive foreign investors away.