Corée du Sud

Korea - French chamber espouses practicality

David-Pierre Jalicon, Chairman of the FKCCI believes that ties between France and Korea should shift to a new level, one based on increased partnerships created by small companies and investors, compared to ones dominated by big corporate groups in the past.

David-Pierre Jalicon, the newly elected chairman of the French Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry, believes that ties between France and Korea should shift to a new level, one based on increased partnerships created by small companies and investors, compared to ones dominated by big corporate groups in the past.

“The chamber is paying attention to smaller companies and investors from France wishing to invest in Korea, and is trying to help them take notice of the business opportunities in Korea,” Jalicon said during a recent interview at his office in Yeoksam-dong, southern Seoul. He is also the founder and chief executive of the DPJ & Partners architecture company.

“As of now, there are not enough small French companies in Korea, because the market isn’t easy for them to enter as there are various difficulties such as cultural gaps.”

And according to Jalicon, that’s where the chamber comes in.


What kind of support does the chamber offer small French firms that are willing to invest in Korea?

A. The first step is the most difficult for small enterprises when entering the Korean market. And because it’s not easy, we need very practical action of support. What we do at the chamber is provide some space for those companies who don’t need permanent space or are at the beginning to rent an office. We also provide a project manager so they can save some expenses.

With our support, it is less risky and ... if it works, they can move to the next step and open their independent office here. So we’re sharing the risk with them.

In fact, we already succeeded. Recently, Arkamys, a creative company in France involved in sound management, opened its independent office. What they did first is they opened their branch inside our chamber office and the chamber also provided the company with a project manager. And after six months, they decided to open their own office. Maybe without our system, the company would have not opened the office in Korea. To do it through the chamber is easier.

It seems one of the main characteristics of the chamber is that it offers practical help. How is the chamber different from other chambers like the European Union Chamber of Commmerce in Korea?

It is an exciting time to head the foreign business group as the overall relationship between Korea and France is at its peak. Not only will France be hosting the G-20 Summit this year after being hosted by Korea last year, but also the Korea-European Union free trade agreement is expected to take effect starting next month.

Many people ask the chamber if French companies are ready for the Korea-EU FTA. What is very important that people should realize is that the political and geostrategic aspects of the FTA are behind us. Now, we should speak about practical things like what our members want, rather than what the relationship and trade balance between France and Korea is. Trade is open. It’s here.

In terms of comparing the FKCCI with other chambers, our chamber is practical. For example, the EUCCK is doing its action at its level and we’re doing our action in our level. There’s no competition at all. The EUCCK is broader in terms of vision, as they cannot pay attention to each individual.

My job is very practical. I’m building, so I try to give a vision to the chamber. It’s important. People should have a vision, but at some point the vision should be achievable - like an architect. We have a vision and a concept. But we should build it after and it should fit with the purpose and objective. My vision of the chamber is the same.

What do you think about the business environment in Korea?

The environment is quite good, like in Hong Kong, Singapore and Beijing. But it isn’t well [known] enough. When I first came to Korea 15 years ago, France and Korea were not in the same club, but now they are. It’s definitely a big change. They can be partners. The mentality of people has changed, and of course, Korea has more foreigners. The Korean government has also been eager to improve conditions to attract foreign investors. I remember at the time I arrived, I was in the service industry and the industry wasn’t free. You needed to have a Korean partner. But after the Asian financial crisis [in late 1990s], there were many efforts made by the government. I was also able to establish my office using my name, which is a very good sign.

What is the chamber’s goal for this year?

We are a nonprofit organization, so our goal is not to make more business. Our goal is to implement the right organization to attract more people. Our priority is not to catch people. If we try to just (raise) membership, they will leave after six months. We guess our number will increase naturally, because there will be more (business) between France and Korea.

By Lee Eun-joo - @ :
Korea JoongAng Dialy

French Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Edouard Champrenault, Executive Director
Tel +82 2 2268 9501 - Fax +82 2 2268 9508 -

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