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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on July 7)

All Headlines 06:57 July 07, 2017


Worry about economic team

President Moon Jae-in has completed selecting the inaugural economic team for his administration. From the line-up, one can speculate that the liberal leader will focus on income-led growth, job creation and the resolution of household debt.

Most notable is that the team consists largely of professors and politicians, except for Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon who doubles as the deputy prime minister for economic affairs, and Choi Jong-ku, the nominee to lead the Financial Services Commission. Those who served as professors include Fair Trade Commission Chairman Kim Sang-jo and the nominees to head the industry and labor ministries and the Korea Communications Commission. Maritime, land and agriculture ministers are incumbents and former lawmakers.

Furthermore, most of Moon's economic aides at Cheong Wa Dae, including policy chief Jang Ha-sung and senior secretary for economic affairs Hong Jang-pyo, were professors. They drew up Moon's economic policy dubbed "J-nomics" and took part in his election camp. That's why presidential aides will have a stronger influence on economic policies than ever before.

Of course, there is no reason to be skeptical about the ministers and presidential aides who were professors or politicians. Some of them will translate what they have thought as scholars and as politicians into action.

However, their lack of hands-on experience and sense of balance in policymaking is worrisome. What's most dreadful is that they might cause a disaster while pushing for half-baked policies under the pretense of reform.

Tough challenges lie ahead for the new economic team. Everyone on the team, in particular, should do his or her utmost to prepare for the possible renegotiation of the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, and find new growth engines.

Now, all eyes are on Finance Minister Kim, a veteran public servant who has spent most of his career at key economic ministries. As the economic czar, he should put top priority on stability and filter out unrealistic policies. He also ought to ramp up structural reform with the firm resolve to resuscitate Korea Inc.
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