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Gov't vows to boost SM exports, global competitiveness

All News 12:08 January 19, 2016

SEOUL/SEJONG, Jan. 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's government will actively support local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) increase exports and become more globally competitive so they can contribute to future growth, the trade and industry minister said Tuesday.

In a meeting hosted by the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Business (K-Biz) in Seoul, Joo Hyung-hwan said measures will be taken to transform domestically-oriented SMEs into export companies.

"State policy on SMEs will be changed to get companies to ship goods abroad," he stressed. "Support will be given to companies that have no prior export experience with the eventual goal of making South Korean SMEs major players on the international stage."

The policymaker then said that particular emphasis will be placed on assisting firms in making headway in information and communication technology (ICT) convergence, high-tech industrial materials, high-end consumer goods and bio-health products that are in high demand.

He said state support will be given in the realm of research and development (R&D), personnel training and securing overseas markets for products made by South Korean manufacturers.

The minister said SMEs will be given access to 3.5 trillion won (US$2.89 billion) worth of state-controlled funds and 2 trillion won in trade-related support money, as well as the 657 billion won set aside for R&D.

"Firms will, moreover, be given various incentives and tax breaks, and even be offered low interest loans if they buy up foreign companies," the policymaker said.

Joo then said that the lifting of international sanctions against Iran in the wake of the landmark nuclear deal will open new opportunities for local SMEs.

He sad besides manufactured goods, companies should turn their attention to the service sector, agrofisheries and food, and cultural contents with more effort being placed to use e-commerce to sell products abroad.

At the meeting, representatives from SMEs such as K-Biz chief Park Sung-taek, and Chung Joon, chairman of the Korea venture Business Association, urged Joo to give greater support to South Korea's nascent jewelry manufacturing sector that is generating attention following the free trade pact with China. Businesses asked the government to extend the special low electricity charges offered to industrial plants on Saturdays that will expire in July.

yonngong@yna.co.kr
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