BusinessKorea held an interview with Lee Dong-geun, Deputy Minister for International Trade & Investment Policy at the Office of International Trade & Investment under the Ministry of Knowledge Economy to go over Korea’s recent trade status and trade policies.
Korea has been enjoying a trade surplus since February of this year, and it is being forecasted that this will soon reach US$40 billion. Please tell us this year’s actual export and import figures.
The trade surplus until November of this year recorded US$37.8 billion, beating the historical high of US$35.2 billion in 1998. Korean exports had a good year compared to the other top 15 countries, and the global market share of our main export items is expanding.
Despite the falling exchange rate and rising oil prices, it is being forecasted that our annual trade surplus goal of US$40 billion will be met, since export conditions and the world’s economy are improving. Despite the global financial crisis, Korean trade is generating good records, contributing to the rapid recovery of the Korean economy. What are the factors behind Korea’s trade success?
I believe our exceptional technology and the outstanding quality of our products are the key factors behind Korea’s strong exports. In addition, Korea has been consistently expanding market shares in major industries, such as semiconductors, cell phones and automobiles at a time when foreign companies in similar industries were reducing production and trade due to the global economic recession.
Solid market dominance and the securing of a large, stable export market will act as a foothold for the rapid expansion of Korea’s exports when the global economy fully recovers. Korea is expected to enter the top ten export countries’ list this year for the first time in history.
Due to rising oil prices and the weak dollar, some experts forecast that Korea’s trade surplus next year will not be as much as this year’s. What is your opinion?
International organizations, such as the IMF forecast a positive economic outlook for the upcoming year, and next year’s overall export environment is expected to improve based on many studies. However, various negative factors, such as a strong won, the rising prices of oil and raw materials, and the possibility of the recurrence of another financial crisis certainly still exist.
Although variables such as the recovery pace of the world’s economy and other economic conditions exist, we still predict that export and import volumes will increase by 13% and 21%, respectively next year, resulting in a trade surplus of US$20 billion, half of this year’s surplus. Next year’s exports will reach US$400 billion thanks to the strong performance of IT products such as semiconductors, displays panels, automobiles, steel and consumer electronics.
The Ministry announced strategic plans to expand advanced trade infrastructure with the goal to become one of the top eight countries in world trade. Could you please tell us a few points of the plan?
This strategic plan focuses on solidifying the trade base and supporting small and medium businesses to enter the export market. We are also introducing export insurance and focusing on expanding marketing infrastructure and fostering trade experts to aid the export activities of small and medium businesses. Reflecting changes in the trade environment, we are planning to reorganize and revise trade related laws and systems.
We are also planning to actively support green, eco-friendly, new growth and knowledge service industries in terms of finances and marketing. We will run an”FTA Utilization Support Center” to enhance small and medium businesses’ capacities in an attempt to help them prepare for the age of FTAs. Our goal is simple. To put Korea into the top eight countries’ list of world trade by 2014, and to deliver our trade goal of US$1.3 trillion, we will work hard to focus on our trade infrastructure expansion strategies.