SEOUL/SEJONG, Feb. 3 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea will make all-out efforts to push up exports critical for economic growth after its outbound shipments dropped at the fastest rate in more than six years in January, the trade and industry minister said Wednesday.
Chairing a meeting of economy-related officials and business community leaders in Seoul, Joo Hyung-hwan said a slowdown in worldwide growth and falling crude prices are exerting a negative impact on Asia’s fourth-largest economy and fueling uncertainties.
South Korea’s outbound shipments plunged 18.5 percent on-year to US$36.7 billion in January. It was the biggest drop since August 2009, raising alarm bells about the country’s export prospects for this year.
The minister said if companies look carefully enough, they should be able to expand sales not only in emerging economies, but traditional markets as well.
“The government plans to concentrate all of its resources into helping companies export more,” Joo stressed. “I will personally check progress to help spur exports on a weekly basis, and listen to input from exporters.”
As part of its efforts to help prop up exports, the government plans to support the dispatch of a 109-person trade promotion delegation in the first half alone, and make a concerted effort to help local companies break into promising markets such as Iran and Cuba, he said.’
Joo also said the government will work with the private sector to bolster the competitiveness of its top selling products, find new export items and assist companies that only sell products inside South Korea to look abroad.
He said cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and agro-fishery goods are products with good export potential, and that state support can be given in the form of research and development.
The minister said the government can also help bring down non-tariff barriers and help establish foreign logistic centers.
The trade and industry ministry, meanwhile, said that with the lifting of international sanctions, Iran could become a big market for products like cars.
Semiconductor and organic light-emitting diode exports could gain traction in established markets such as the United States, while investment in cosmetics manufacturing could further help local companies make headway in China, it said.
Ongoing efforts to establish a K-contents business center in Beijing can stimulate content trade with Seoul’s No. 1 trading partner, it added.