Range of Korean World-Class Products to Be Broadened
Range of Korean World-Class Products to Be Broadened
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  • 승인 2005.01.01 12:01
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Suh Young-ju

Director general of the Trade Policy Bureau of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE)

Assistance Package available for Overseas marketing of Top Products Amounting to approximately $250 billion, exports have been the propelling force behind the economy in 2004. However, a close look at Korean exports shows they are concentrated among a relative small number of items. Accordingly, by developing and nurturing a large number of world first-class products, Korea will be able to accomplish stability in exports and in its economy. Suh Young-ju, director general of the Trade Policy Bureau of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE), said in a New Year interview with The Korea IT Times, "The government plans to boost the number of world-class products from the current 440 to 800 and then later to 1,000." Mr. Suh said that the government will beef up its overseas marketing effort for Korean world-class products, in ways such as holding exhibitions and garnering greater levels of publicity on their behalf. As an adjunct these initiatives, the government plans to strengthen competitiveness in major key industries, plus next-generation growth engine industries and knowledge-based service industries. Mr. Suh stressed that the Bureau plans to boost export capability among manufacturers of world-class products through technological innovation in the parts/material field. In the interview below, The Korea IT Times spoke with Mr. Suh on the Bureau's plan to broaden the range of Korean world-class products and promote them to buyers abroad. Q: How big is the gap between the number of world-class products manufactured by Korea and those produced by the United States, Japan and Germany's What's more, how do you propose to narrow this gap's A: According to a survey by the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), the number of Korean world-class products is small, only 77 items in all. This compares with 884 items produced by the United States, 808 items by Germany, 787 by China, and 321 by Japan. The reason why the number of top Korean products is small compared with those manufactured by the advanced economies is because Korean technology and brand competitiveness is relatively poor. Contrarily, Korea doesn's even come close to matching underdeveloped countries such as China owing to their higher price competitiveness based on cheap labor. The government will promote the image of Korean products as high priced and of high quality, and move away from competing on price by developing inputs such as design, materials and technology. In addition, through our policy of nurturing of next-generation growth engine industries, our Bureau plans to enhance the competitiveness of high-potential Korean products of the future. Q: What are the major policies and goals of the Trade Policy Bureau in 2005 A: In 2004, Korean exports were the mainstay of the economy owing to stagnant domestic demand, soaring over US$250 billon, the highest level in history. For 2005, the outlook for Korean exports is forecast to be unfavorable due to the appreciation of the won versus the dollar and the generally sluggish nature of the world economy. However, to maintain exports as the chief engine of economic growth, the government will put in place new export promotion policies. Our Bureau, for example, will actively support the overseas market pioneering efforts of our corporations by focusing on specific markets, for example, advanced countries, BRICs, and "Oil dollar markets". Moreover, our Bureau will tackle pending trade issues while supporting export companies in their difficulties because of the won's rise against the dollar. Further, the government will make efforts to develop the country's trading infrastructure, such as e-trade systems, and trade-specialized human resources to international standards while simultaneously developing new sources of exports such as industrial plant, as a mid- to long-term objective. Q: How would you rate the Korean World Class Products Show held in Sao Paulo during President Roh Moo-hyun's visit to Brazil A: During President Roh's visit to Central and South America that culminated in the APEC Summit Meeting in November 2004, the Korean World Class Products Show was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil for three days. A total of 7 large companies such as Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Hyundai Motor Company, Kia Motor Co. participated in the exhibition plus 73 smaller ones including Medison and Erae Electronics. The top products from the major Korean corporates were thus exhibited alongside those of our smaller companies. The show was an undoubted success since the total value of export contracts signed surpassed by far the initial goal of $50 million to reach $160 million. Q: How successful have been efforts to nurture Korean world-class products A: In 2003, exports of world-class products were valued at $37.7 billion, accounting for 19.5% of the total. In a survey on companies that produced such products, 93% of respondents answered that they experienced an improvement in business after they were designated as world-class product manufacturing companies. Some 13.1% said that such a designation was of help in advancing into new markets and 4.2% answered that it was of help in increasing exports. Q: What kind of support does MOCIE extend to manufacturing companies A: To broaden the supply of world-class products with the aim of elevating them to the position of a key export item, the government delivers a multi-faceted support program. This includes support toward overseas marketing, development of technology and design, and financing. In regard to overseas marketing, the government has been holding shows emerging markets such as BRICs. To help manufacturers participate, the government provides support toward direct expenses including transportation and booth installation.

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