With the inauguration of the Trump administration just on the doorstep, corporations around the globe are proclaiming huge investments in the United States. Jack Ma, the executive chairman of Alibaba Group, met with Trump in New York on Jan. 9 (local time) and promised to create a million jobs in the U.S. in the next five years. This is more than twenty times the 50,000 that Son Jeong-ui (Masayoshi Son), the chief executive officer of SoftBank Mobile, promised last December. Toyota also decided to invest $10 billion over the next five years, leading to reports of “Trumphobia” spreading in the Detroit motor show.
The Sino-Japanese investment competition is an attempt to circumvent Trump’s tax threats and have the upper hand in future investments. Chairman Ma even offered to help U.S. farmers in the Midwest sell their agricultural products to China through Alibaba’s trading platform – an offer much appreciated by Trump. It’s not surprising that Trump called him "a great, great entrepreneur, one of the best in the world." It’s also notable that Chinese and Japanese corporations are going above and beyond the call of duty, taking it on themselves to act as private diplomatic envoys. The executives of these corporations are credited with helping to clear the air by actively engaging in meetings with Trump. The businessmen are said to have strategized with their governments to plan negotiations on the sly.
While our rivals overseas are actively collaborating with the U.S. market, our government and our corporations are watching on the sidelines. Samsung and Hyundai Motors, both of whom have production bases in the U.S. and Mexico, are not doing much except cautiously and laboriously reviewing whether they should invest in the U.S. market as well. Furthermore, the heads of our biggest corporations are in dire straits as they have received departure prohibition orders for their involvement in the political scandal involving Choi Soon-sil. Businesses are currently anguished that investing in the U.S. will invoke criticism from politicians and labor unions. In these aspects, South Korea keeps losing ground and is finding itself in a tight spot, where the country can’t even manage its own businesses. If our businesses want to remain globally competitive, the realistic alternative is for us to jump on the bandwagon and get involved with Trumponomics as soon as possible. The faster we invest, the better. Our government should at least create a private task force to compile and tackle all the problems associated with our enterprises entering the market, and quickly provide measures to prepare for the reign of the Trump administration.