SEOUL, Jan. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's industry ministry said Thursday it will carry out various measures to support local steelmakers as protectionism policies around the world are expected to weigh down companies in 2019.
During a meeting with representatives from steel companies, Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo expressed gratitude to local firms for successfully overcoming challenges last year, such as the trade dispute between Washington and Beijing, that hurt market sentiment.
South Korea's exports of steel moved down 0.6 percent on-year to US$33.9 billion in 2018, amid numerous hurdles.
Sung said the country's steel industry is anticipated to suffer from a worldwide drop in demand for steel products, coupled with slumps in the automobile and construction industries.
With looming restrictions on imports of South Korean steel in markets around the world, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said it will join hands with local firms to help them find new export destinations and increase sales of premium products.
The government said it will carry out joint actions against the possibility of restrictions on South Korean steel products.
To support small players, the ministry said it will work to have conglomerates share their smart-factory technology know-how with smaller companies to achieve shared growth and improve overall productivity.
The government will ask local firms to shift their focus to premium products, and expand their facility investment to beef up their competitiveness, it added.
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