SEOUL, KOREA -- On December 5, South Korea became the ninth country in the world to exceed USD one trillion in trade volume. In anticipation of the historic milestone, the annual Trade Day was delayed and held at COEX in Seoul on December 12.
A total of 816 persons and organizations received honors in recognition of their exceptional contributions to expand the country's exports under difficult circumstances both at home and abroad, including 31 who received special honors. The awardees were selected from a wide range of industries and from companies both large and small.
"The development of trade is linked with the development of the Korean economy. This especially holds true for Korea, where the economy is heavily dependent on overseas imports. Last year, Korea’s trade dependence was 84.6 percent,' said Sa Kong-il, chairman of KITA.
"Korea became the ninth country in the world to have its trade volume exceed USD 1 trillion, following the U.S., Germany, China, Japan, France, the U.K., the Netherlands, and Italy.
Noting that there is no doubt that the Korean economy is very steady and strong, Mr. Sa added, "Joining the 'USD 1 trillion club' means that Korea’s trade has advanced from the periphery to the center of the world’s market.
According to KITA, the contribution of Korea’s exports to its economic growth has averaged 67.9 percent per year from 2000 to 2011. Exports in 2010 have helped the country to create nearly 4 million jobs and added values of USD 256.6 billion.
From humble beginnings to member of the 'One-Trillion-Dollar Trade Club'
In 1946, Korea’s trade volume was at USD 64 million, and it ranked 65th in the world for trade. Once dependent on foreign aid, Korea has now become a country with a gross national income of USD 20,759. Raw materials including iron ore and tungsten are no longer the main exports. After exporting mainly textiles in the 1970s and 1980s, Korea is now producing ships, semiconductors, mobile phones, and automobiles. Based on its 2010 list of exports, the top exports are automobiles followed by semiconductors and ships, according to a KITA spokesman.
Reaching the milestone is particularly significant because Korea took less time to reach it than the other countries. While the other eight countries of the one-trillion-dollar trade club took an average of 26.4 years to increase their trade volume from USD 100 billion to USD 1 trillion, Korea took 23 years.
Both Korean and Foreign Contributors to Milestone Honored
The ceremony gave honors to both individuals who helped modernize the Korean industry as well as those who promoted Korean exports to the world.
The Gold Tower Industrial Service Merit was awarded to two extraordinary individuals who contributed to the development of Korean heavy industry: the late British shipbuilding engineer William John Duncan, who transferred shipbuilding knowledge to Korea in the 1970s, and Paek Deok-hyun, former vice president of POSCO, who developed Korea's independent technology for building iron mills.
Chung Ho-kyun, former adviser of Samsung Mobile Display, received the Silver Tower Industrial Service Merit for making AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) a global success.
Bronze Tower Industrial Service Merit was awarded to four persons, including Ko Jae-kyu, managing director of Sonix, for his contribution to developing die technology.
Giorgetto Giugiaro, who designed Hyundai's Pony -- the first Korean car to be exported -- received the Steel Tower Industrial Service Merit for his contributions to Korean auto design.
Stone Tower Industrial Service Merit and Jade Medal for Distinguished Service went to five persons, including Lee Chul-woo, vice president of Samsung C&T Corp., for promoting Korean exports.
Industrial Decoration was given to 15 persons, including Ui Mikio, a senior researcher of S&T Heavy Industries, who contributed to development of machine tool technology.
Promotion of Exports
The Gold Tower Industrial Service Merit went to two CEOs of large companies, including Cho Byung-ho, chairman of Dongyang Mechatronics, and three executives of SMEs, including Yoo Hee-yeol, chairman of Saehwa IMC.
Others who were honored at the ceremony included:
Meanwhile, the local government of Gyeongsangbuk-do received a presidential commendation for accelerating the growth of regional exports.
A presidential commendation was also awarded to Daejeon-Chungnam SMEs Export Supporting Center, which was singled out as the best export supporting center for SMEs.