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Convention expected to boost Korean-Chinese business ties
Oct 07, 2005
More than 2,000 Chinese business leaders and entrepreteneurs will come to Korea to participate in the eighth World Chinese Entrepreneurs Convention, or WCEC, which opens this Sunday.
The gathering was heralded as the first convention of its kind here, officials and members of Chinese business bodies view it to be an opportunity to effectively promote Sino-Korean business ties.
"The short-term effects may not be soon felt, but holding such a convention will eventually bring mutual benefits (for both Korea and China) in the long term," said Kwon Do-ha of the Korea International Trade Association's China team.
Among them is building an extensive network with Chinese entrepreneurs who are known for their emphasis on "guanxi," which means "relationship" in Chinese.
As many Korean companies have been quick to point out after business stints there, Chinese business circles are said to hugely depend on such "guanxi."
"Just having received the opportunity to make acquaintences with the participants will give relations a boost," said Kim Tae-sung director of the Commerce Ministry's Korea-China economic cooperation team.
He added that this year's meeting would be different in that tangible results of up to $800 million of investment is expected from it.
Such expectations stem from the fact that despite its previous image as an exclusively Chinese affair, the convention is now taking shape as an "economic olympics" for the global community.
Prominent figures at the convention who Korean investors and officials hope to secure wider ties with include some of the world's wealthiest individuals listed in Forbes magazine.
These leaders will be provided with excursions to different provinces and one-on-one meetings with potential local investors or exporters to help clinch deals.
Most of the tours will be held in key industrial and tourism spots, such as Incheon, Ulsan, Gwangju and Busan.
Currently in Korea there are more than 20,000 Chinese Koreans, following periods of rapid decline since the 1960s. As the number pales in comparison to the global tally of 90 million, the government has been busily renewing efforts to keep ties strong with a country that is expanding at a rate of 9 percent a year.
The giant neighbor also generates the largest demand for global steel supplies by soaking up 30 percent, and is also Korea's top export destination. During the first half of the year, trade with China reached nearly $50 billion. The two countries are now aiming to achieve a $100 billion annual volume by 2008.
But it is only recently that business relations with China flowered in earnest based on the Korea Chinese Business Association that was created in 1999.
Since then, China has opened six bank branches here, including two by the Bank of China which is its second-largest bank. The bank plans to add more branches this year.
First created in 1991 by former Singaporean prime minister, the Chinese entrepreneurs' convention is held every two years. Seven countries have played host so far.