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FDI in free economic zones up 43 pct in 2021: data

All News 11:06 January 04, 2022

SEOUL, Jan. 4 (Yonhap) -- Foreign direct investment pledged to South Korea's free economic zones (FEZs) surged 42.8 percent in 2021, led by the overseas investment in bio and other new industry sectors, data showed Tuesday.

The country's nine FEZs received US$1.31 billion worth of FDI commitment last year, up from $910 million a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

It is the first time in three years that the figure marked an on-year growth.

The amount of foreign direct investment actually made in South Korea last year more than doubled from a year earlier to $840 million, the data showed.

The country has designated nine FEZs across the country since 2003, including those in the western city of Incheon and the southeastern port city of Busan, by offering tax incentives and eased regulations for foreign companies.

The cumulative amount of FDI in the free economic zones surpassed the $20 billion mark last year.

By segment, investment in the manufacturing sector, including pharmaceutical and metal fields, went up 19.2 percent on-year to $520 million, and the service segment, such as logistics and research and development, saw the amount jump 64.7 percent to $780 million, according to the data.

The so-called emerging areas linked to next-generation technologies accounted for more than half of the total industry fields, the ministry said.

By investors, the European Union accounted for 40.8 percent of the total FDI pledges in the free economic zones last year, followed by China and Chinese-speaking countries with 31.6 percent, North America with 10.6 percent and the Philippines with 10 percent.

The Incheon FEZ, the largest and first FEZ in South Korea, received $710 million in FDI, followed by the Busan-Jinhae zone in the southern region with $290 million, the East Coast FEZ with $100 million, and the Gyeonggi Zone in the metropolitan area with $90 million, the data showed.

Last year, in particular, foreign investors expanded their investment in Songdo, Incheon, for a production base of biopharmaceuticals, according to the ministry. The country's biotech cluster is located in Songdo, where dozens of major local and global bio and health care firms have made investment.

"The government has been trying to attract more investment in next-generation technology and knowledge-intensive service industries," the ministry said. "We will continue to make tailored measures for each zone so as to create more favorable business circumstances."

This image provided by the Incheon Free Economic Zone agency shows the Songdo international city in Incheon, west of Seoul. (Yonhap)

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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