SEOUL, Jan. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's industry ministry on Thursday asked for local shipbuilders' cooperation over the latest hike in the minimum wage, promising to provide necessary support to their business in 2019.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said it is making efforts to ease the burdens of local shipbuilders and marine engineering firms through financial support so that the new minimum wage can settle down in the market.
South Korea's hourly minimum wage for 2019 is set at 8,350 won (US$7.29), up 10.9 percent from last year's 7,530 won. The new amount represents a 29.1 percent rise since President Moon Jae-in took office two years ago.
The ministry said it is willing to continue talks with local firms to minimize their burden down the road and urged the companies to cooperate with the wage hike to improve the quality of jobs in the country.
Local shipbuilders and marine engineering firms have been expressing concerns over the steep wage hike, citing the issue as one of the key challenges they face this year along with the U.S.-China trade dispute.
The government added it will faithfully carry out financial policies worth 1.7 trillion won to support local shipbuilders in 2019, as promised last year.
Shipbuilders, meanwhile, said the industry is expected to pull off a full-fledged recovery this year, considering it showed significant improvement in 2018.
Last year, for the first time in seven years, South Korean shipyards ranked No. 1 in terms of annual orders secured, according to data compiled by global research firm Clarkson Research Institute.
However, the rising costs of materials, along with the gloomy outlook over the global economy, remain potential threats, they added.
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