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Park calls for bold deregulation to encourage investment

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, July 11 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye said Thursday the government should try to remove as many regulations as possible to encourage businesses to invest more so as to help create jobs and spur the slumping economy.

"Investment is the key to job creation," Park said during a trade and investment promotion meeting. "First of all, the government should carry out deregulation in a bolder manner to improve the environment for investment."

Park stressed that regulations should be lifted in a sweeping or "negative" way as much as possible. Lifting regulations in a negative fashion refers to lifting all but core regulations.

The number of business regulations rose from about 11,000 to some 14,000 in 2012, she said.

"It would not be easy to make an investment decision in a situation where conditions at home and abroad are opaque," she said. "Therefore, trust in government policy is important and establishing a trustworthy investment environment is important."

Park also said South Korea lags behind advanced nations in attracting foreign investment.

The ratio of foreign investment to gross domestic product is 12.7 percent for South Korea, compared with 25 percent for the United States, 21 percent for Germany and a whopping 252 percent for Singapore, she said.

Park said she was very disappointed that a revision to the foreign investment promotion act failed to pass through the National Assembly earlier this month and she hopes the bill will win parliamentary approval in the next session.

Park said the government should work harder to revitalize Asia's fourth-largest economy, saying a supplementary budget and other stimulus measures it has taken so far have not yet brought about their intended effects.

"In the second half, we have to put priority on revitalizing the economy for ordinary people," she said.

Park said she understands farmers could be concerned about a potential free trade agreement with China but such a deal could also open up a huge export market for quality agricultural products from Korea.

Since last year, South Korea and China have held six rounds of free trade negotiations.

When the latest round was held in the South's southeastern port city of Busan early this month, farmers and fishermen held massive protest rallies as they are concerned a free trade pact with China would flood the market with cheap Chinese products.

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