Park promises to give more support to SMEs

When President Park Geun-hye visited the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business last month, the fact that she went there before paying a call on the group representing the nation’s largest conglomerates seemed to highlight her commitment to supporting small firms. “Shared growth” between large and small companies has been a key policy goal of the government for years, and it is expected to gain momentum under Park, who took office on Monday.

The government currently offers some 160 incentives, including tax benefits, for small and medium enterprises, but most of them still have trouble finding workers of high caliber, in large part because many young Koreans prefer big firms, and can’t invest much in research and development. To keep large companies from hurting SMEs’ business, a state-funded panel designates trades deemed suitable for only SMEs, such as bakeries and restaurants, and advises large firms to stay away from them.

For full article see Korea Herald.

Foreign-invested manufacturers Increase R&D Investment

Foreign-invested companies in the Korean manufacturing sector have seen their combined R&D investment nearing KRW 2 trillion. According to a survey on foreign-invested companies’ 2011 managerial performance, conducted by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE), the value of R&D investment by foreign-invested manufacturers surged 40% from KRW 1.33 trillion in 2010 to nearly KRW 1.86 trillion in 2011. Their share of the Korean manufacturing industry also rose from 5.4% to 7.1% during the same period.

The survey looked into 1,000 companies, over 10% (over USD 500,000) of which were owned by foreign investors as of the end of 2011. Overall, foreign-invested companies’ contribution to the domestic economy has also been on the rise. As of 2011, the number of employees on their payrolls gained 17,000 year-on-year to 501,000. Noteworthy is that foreign-invested manufacturers led job growth by taking on 22,794 new hires in 2011. Their exports also ticked up USD 8.4 billion to USD 100.7 billion and their sales climbed over 20% year-on-year to KRW 482 trillion in 2011.

Source: Korea IT Times.

Park underlines convergence of industries with ICT and science

The key economic driving force behind Park’s administration is based around the convergence of Korean industries with science and ICT. Since her time on the campaign trail, Park Geun-hye has underlined the potential integration of ICT with diverse industries such as service, culture, and electronics to generate a new growth engine for Korea’s economy.

Park said in an inauguration speech that, “The government will proceed forward with building a creative economy in an attempt to achieve Korea’s economic prosperity. This creative economy is based upon integrating science technologies and industries, as well as culture and industries. The hope is that this collaboration will bear the flowers of creation on the boundary where the walls of industries have been torn down. I believe at the core of this creative economy lies science technology and IT industry. The government will accelerate its efforts to take Korea’s science technologies to the global stage, and apply the technologies to all sectors with the goal of realizing the creative economy.”

For full article see Korea IT Times.

New government to drive exports of nuclear plants

The coming Park Geun-hye government is expected to take a two-track policy of promoting exports of nuclear power plants while curbing expansion of the industry at home.

The outline of 140 major projects that the presidential transition committee unveiled on Thursday said the new government will support exports of nuclear plants in an attempt to boost the economy. But it didn’t present a clear direction on the increase of nuclear reactors at home. The president-elect has continued to stress the safety of nuclear plants rather than capacity expansion.

The renewed nuclear power policy direction was confirmed in the final version of the 6th Basic Plan for Long-Term Electricity Supply and Demand for 2013 to 2027, which the Ministry of Knowledge Economy released on Friday. According to the plan, demand for electricity is expected to increase 3.4 percent on average per year between 2013 and 2027. Based on the prospects of rising demand, the ministry also unveiled plans on increases of electricity generation facilities by energy sources except nuclear power.

For full article, see Korea Herald.

Ministry of Future Creative Science

In February 2008, Kim Woo-sik’s self-esteem as a scientist crumbled with the disbandment of the Ministry of Science and Technology. Likewise, the event instructed by then-incoming President Lee Myung-bak as part of his campaign pledge of creating a “small government” enervated scores of scientists and engineers in the country.

Five years on, they are now rebuilding the damaged identity with the revival of the ministry that is bigger and even stronger than five years ago.  The newly-created ministry, tentatively named the Ministry of Future Creative Science, is already nicknamed “super” ministry because of extensive roles and responsibilities it will take.

But it has triggered concerns about its ability to deal with them without flaws.  ‘Super’ ministry  Under President Park Geun-hye’s government restructuring plan that is awaiting congressional approval to take effect, the ministry is set to handle almost everything in the fields of natural and applied science, research and information technology that include the nation’s ambitious space program.

For full article, see Korea Times.

Government plans 18 thermal plants

Korea will build as many as 18 thermal power plants by 2027 while also significantly expanding the generation capacity of clean, renewable power sources, such as solar and wind farms, the government said yesterday. The move comes as the country’s electricity consumption is expected to grow by an annual average of 2.2 percent, from 482.5 billion kilowatt-hours this year to 655.3 billion kilowatt-hours by 2027.

The country’s peak power demand is expected to grow at a faster rate of 2.4 percent per year from 79.7 million kilowatts in 2013 to over 110 million kilowatts in 2027, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

The government sets a 15-year power supply plan in place every two years. The latest is the sixth of its kind. Under the new plan, the government seeks to increase the total generation capacity of clean, renewable sources to 12 percent of total consumption in 2027, compared with only 7 percent in 2025 under the fifth power supply plan announced two years earlier.

For full article, see Joongang Daily.

Government to form 100 Bil. Won fund to nurture global drug companies

In order to encourage small- and medium-sized pharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs and expand overseas, the government will create an investment fund worth 100 billion won by July this year. To that end, the Ministry of Health and Welfare will chip in 20 billion won while other state-run organizations such as pension funds and public financial institutions will make up the remaining balance.
The ministry said this on February 20 as part of its “new rule on managing funds to nurture global pharmaceutical companies” in an administrative notice. This is the first time for the government to form an investment fund to foster globally competitive drug companies.
The fund will take the form similar to the Korea Venture Fund, with the Korea Health Industry Development Institute taking the responsibility of managing the fund. The fund management firms will be selected by a nine-person selection committee after deliberation.

Korea’s shipbuilders turn to green ships

2013_02_shipbuildingSouth Korea’s struggling shipbuilding industry seeks to find breakthroughs with their focus toward green and energy-efficient ships. The industry’s winning strategy in the ongoing economic recession came from the market landscape where ship owners shift toward green and energy-efficient ships as a way of cutting fuel costs and environment standards are increasingly enhanced.

The nation’s top three shipbuilders including Hyundai Heavy Industries, Samsung Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering and even mid and large-sized ones including Hyundai Mipo Dockyard and SPP Shipbuilding bet on building eco-friendly ships, according to the shipbuilding industry Monday.

The nation’s top three shipbuilders are likely to compete in the race to secure an 18,000 TEU (Twenty-foot equivalent units) container ship order issued by the Middle East-based shipping company United Arab Shipping Company (UASC). The orders are worth a whopping $2 billion in total.

For full article, see Maeil Business.

2G phones back with a vengeance?

Someone casually pulls out his phone from his pocket during a coffee break in between a series of morning meetings, peers at it for a while before flipping open the lid to start talking into the mouthpiece.
At the gesture, several of his colleagues look on in surprise ― shock even ― and they venture to ask him, “how in the world can you still be holding onto such a phone?”

Flip phones are usually feature phones, also called second-generation or 2G phones running on the previous second-generation communication networks, and it seemed like their days had been numbered when smartphones hit the Korean landscape several years ago.

Currently, up to three-fifths of the Korean population uses smartphones, with computer-like operating systems that run high-tech applications for playing games, finding directions, juggling schedules and anything else designed to make life that much more convenient and entertaining. Yet up to 20 million people in the country still use a feature phone, and are refusing to switch. In fact, many are demanding new designs for their “outdated” phones. “We don’t want to switch to smartphones, but we do want our feature phones to look hipper,” said one blogger who is a member of the blog, “For a united “010.” The mobile prefix “010” is the first used for smartphones, and began use with 2G feature phones in 2004.

For full article, see Korea Herald.

Green energy industry prospects dimming

2013_02_RNE-koreaThe nation’s clean energy businesses are going downhill, squeezed by a slump in domestic demand and exports, according to a report. The report released by the Renewable Energy Center under Korea Export-Import Bank forecast that sales of the local renewable energy industry were expected to post minus growth this year over 2012, mainly due to slow local demand. Sales in the clean energy industry have shown a downward trend for two consecutive years in 2011 and 2012, after peaking in 2010 at 8.1 trillion won ($7.5 billion).

In sharp contrast, the global renewable energy market has continued to grow amid the world’s economic downturn for the past five years and it is expected to grow 4 percent to $271.3 billion this year compared to more than a year ago, CleanEdge, a U.S. energy consultancy, said.

The local renewable energy industry also hasn’t performed well in exports since 2010. Outbound shipments are forecast to fall 9 percent on-year to $3.82 billion this year, which will be the biggest drop in three years, the Renewable Energy Center said.

For full article see Korea Herald.