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Posted : 2013-06-10 17:42
Updated : 2013-06-10 17:42

National Economic Advisory Council

By Jay Kim

I was recently appointed as a member of the National Economic Advisory Council by President Park Geun-hye. The council is a presidential advisory body which was established on Nov. 20, 1999 under Article 93 of the Constitution. Along with an appointment ceremony, the first meeting of the council for this president was held on May 29, presided over by the president.

In the first meeting, there were briefings on the operational direction for the council, on the Korean economy, and on future challenges in economic policy. The meeting addressed several issues concerning reviving the economy, and the positive coverage from the press seems to have raised the status of the council even more. I could not sleep on the first day after the meeting, feeling as if the whole responsibility for the economic revival of the Republic of Korea had been put on my shoulders. I take my appointment by the president as her telling me to find ways to resurrect the Korean economy in a short period, using the ideas that I have developed by running my Politics & Economy Academy in Korea, as well as with the experience that I have gained from my life over the past half of a century in the U.S.

The first thing that comes to mind about the economy of Korea is the small businesses that have been going through excruciating hardships. As the country's small businesses are crashing, its middle class is being destroyed, and its economic polarization is getting worse. The troubles of small businesses are beyond description, as they have to compete with one another while being crushed by big corporations that have expanded even into the small neighborhood markets.

I had a relative amount of success in business in the U.S., with help from its Small Business Administration. That was the reason why I joined the Small Business Committee when I was a U.S. House Representative. I will pour into the National Economic Advisory Council all my experience of U.S. policy for small businesses, the experience that I alone have as the only Korean-American who was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

My first impression of the National Economic Advisory Council was that all the members, experts in respective their fields, were humble. Not a single member was arrogant enough to insist only on their own opinion. Respecting one another's opinions, they showed their strong will to contribute to improving the economy of the nation in any way possible.

In the U.S., I was the mayor of a predominantly white city, led meetings of a House subcommittee as its chairman in the Congress, and had an opportunity to chair several public hearings, which always led to politics entering the discussions. However, I feel like the National Economic Advisory Council is an organization, free from politics, with pure intention of reviving the economy of the country.

The council has four subcommittees divided by the major economic tasks that the new administration has set: creative economy, livelihood economy, fair economy, and macroeconomic finance. The subcommittee on creative economy deals with industry, IT, convergence, new growth engines, and service areas. The subcommittee on livelihood economy works on welfare, employment, labor, pensions, finance, and the livelihood of the working classes. The subcommittee on fair economy works on shared growth, economic democratization, regulations reform, and consumer market structure reform. The subcommittee on macroeconomic finance studies the macro economy, the international economy, trade, and finance.

I belong to the subcommittee on fair economy. It promotes shared growth and economic democratization, and also works on reforming unnecessary regulations and improving the structure of the consumer market. These are really the perfect areas that I can use the experience that I have gained from my life in the U.S.

Now the U.S. economy is picking up, and the world economy also shows signs of slowly getting out of recession. I think that it is time for us to revitalize our economy in order to join the advanced nations. Korea-U.S. relations have never been better, and I think Japan will change its wrong-headed viewpoint on its history with Korea before long, since it is having trouble due to international condemnation of its position.

Meanwhile, North Korea will become more and more isolated from the international community, while facing a situation that could threaten its existence, while its traditional allies (China and Russia) are getting closer and closer with South Korea. As all the circumstances around our country are unfolding to its advantage, it is time for the country to set a clear direction for its economic policy. Now is the time for the whole nation to unite to make Korea an economic powerhouse.

Jay Kim is a former U.S. congressman. He serves as chairman of the Kim Chang Joon US-Korea Foundation. For more information, visit Kim's website at www.jayckim.com.

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