SEOUL — South Korea's Minister of Knowledge Economy Hong Suk-woo met with the country’s industry leaders, including representatives from Samsung Electronics, Kia Motors, and Hyundai Heavy Industries on January 18 to examine the status of the country’s exports.
The meeting comes after Hong announced on Tuesday to President Lee Myung-bak that the country may run into a trade deficit in January, a first for the country in 23 months. Korean exports are projected to decrease this month due to the prolonged European financial crisis and US trade sanctions on Iran.
Hong emphasized to the present that current economic difficulties may be overcome through recent ratifications of the EU and US FTAs. However the Korean companies were concerned about decreasing consumer spending due to the global economic slowdown as well as increased competition from international rivals.
Specifically, Korean shipbuilders are concerned that previously signed orders from Europe -- Korea’s biggest market for ships — will be delayed or cancelled due to the ongoing eurozone crisis.
In the petrochemical sector, Korean companies are concerned about American sanctions on Iran. They are looking for alternative markets for their exports.
Other major companies are trying to develop new markets through research and development of new technologies in order to expand exports through a variety of strategies. These companies include manufacturers of LCD, OLED and autostereoscopic 3D displays, eco-friendly synthetic rubbers, value-added textiles, as well as green energy producers.
In order to expand exports, the companies are seeking government funding for research and development, as well as support in export financing, marketing and infrastructure.
The companies would also like the government to negotiate further free trade agreements with other major countries, as well as knowledge and support on how they can take advantage of the new FTAs with Europe and the US.
Until the conditions for the country's exports improve, the Ministry will continue to hold these brief meetings with the companies. Meanwhile, South Korea already has agencies in place that provide ongoing support for Korean companies seeking to do business abroad, such as the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency and the Korea Trade Insurance Corporation.