SEOUL, Feb. 15 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea announced a package of measures Wednesday to utilize information and communications technology (ICT) and science technology to revitalize the country’s economy suffering from weak exports and flagging manufacturing sector.
Under the measures discussed in a meeting presided over by Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, the government will make use of the latest ICT to secure new growth engines, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning said. The meeting was joined by officials from the Presidential Advisory Council on Science and Technology, and the state science and technology strategy panel.
“Science technology and ICT are core factors that will make a breakthrough during an economic crisis and create new growth engines for the future,” Hwang said, adding that it is important to fuse the two factors to make the service industry more advanced.
The government said it will double research and development (R&D) spending to 1.25 trillion won (US$1.07 billion) for the local service sector in 2021. The R&D budget will be poured into the seven service sectors, including software, medicine and tourism, which are considered new growth engines, officials said.
The move comes amid a deep slump in the manufacturing sector which accounts for nearly 30 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), the ministry said.
The manufacturing sector, which has been the engine of South Korea’s economic development in the past, is directly affected by exports. However, the sector’s employment rate hovers around 17 percent in recent years, lagging far behind its GDP contribution.
The service industry, on the other hand, has been strengthening its presence in the economy, hiring 70 percent of the country’s total workforce in 2015. But it accounted for 60 percent of the country’s total added value due to poor labor productivity.
The government said it will also make the local manufacturing industry “smarter” by introducing automated smart factories to enhance the quality of products, cut production costs, and streamline and speed up the manufacturing process.
The government said it will construct an accumulated 5,000 smart factories by the first half of 2017 and another 10,000 by 2020.
The government will also help local firms to export more ICT products, especially in the aerospace and nuclear power sectors.
The government also plans to use next year’s Winter Olympic Games — set to take place in the nation’s eastern alpine city of PyeongChang — as an opportunity to debut a number of cutting-edge products.
Athletes and visitors to various Olympic venues in PyeongChang, about 180 km east of Seoul, and nearby areas will be able to experience a wide range of advanced products and technology in the ICT sector, officials said.