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Companies recruit former bureaucrats amid increasingly volatile global trade environment

From left are Hyosung Heavy Industries CEO-nominee Woo Tae-hee, Jeong Marn-ki, who is a candidate for an outside director position at Hyosung Advanced Materials, and Kim Sung-han, a former national security adviser who will also work as an outside director for HD Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering from next month. Yonhap

Conglomerates are reinforcing readiness for radical changes in the global trade order by scouting former bureaucrats specializing in international trade and overseas regulatory risk management, according to industry officials, Wednesday. Hyosung Group looks to remain agile in responding to the new trade paradigm, as its two affiliates plan to hire ranking executives from a major business lobby and a trade organization here. Woo Tae-hee, outgoing executive vice chairman at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will take office as the head of Hyosung Heavy Industries after possibly winning approvals from the firm’s upcoming shareholders’ meeting in March .Woo served as vice trade minister for a year and a half from January 2016. Recognized for his trade expertise, he became the top-ranking executive at the business lobby for four years since February 2020. The bureaucrat-turned-businessman handled a variety of energy policies — such as nuclear power and hydrogen — while working at the trade ministry. After ending his decades-long career at the authority, he took on the role of outside director at Lotte Fine Chemical and Yesco Holdings.

The Hyosung affiliate is widely expected to have scouted Woo in efforts to boost its energy-related businesses by utilizing his deep understanding of energy policies and strong business network .Jeong Marn-ki, outgoing executive vice chairman at the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), has also been appointed as a new outside director for Hyosung Advanced Materials, as the company was in need of experts dealing with a looming regulatory risk in Europe on emissions of fine particles from tire friction. The Hyosung subsidiary makes tire reinforcement cords. He has also worked as a trade minister and served as the KITA executive for more than two years since September 2022. Jeong is also widely considered to have strong networking capabilities with U.S. government officials, as he engaged in frequent meetings with U.S. authorities while serving as head of the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association for over three years from March 2019.

Other companies are also joining the bandwagon, hiring influential government officials for their top management or outside director positions. HD Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering recently appointed Kim Sung-han, former national security adviser, as its external director. He will work at the company upon receiving relevant approvals at its shareholders’ meeting next month. “Most export-reliant Korean firms are paying sharp attention to how the global trade circumstance will be reshaped this year due to a number of risk factors — such as the upcoming U.S. presidential election, and the hiring of such former ranking bureaucrats is seen as part of their efforts to brace for the worst by tightening internal readiness,” an official from a 토토사이트 conglomerate said.

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