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China closes technology gap with Korea: survey

Mar 03,2008
To the dismay of the Lee Myung-bak administration, which pledged to create the world’s seventh largest economy, Korea is falling behind advanced countries while a developing nation is snapping at its heels.
According to two recent state-funded surveys, which were conducted separately, the technological gap between Korea and China in the manufacturing sector is shrinking, and the service sector gap between Korea and advanced countries is widening.
According to results of a November survey conducted by the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade yesterday, the manufacturing technology gap between Korea and China has fallen to 3.8 years from 4.7 years in 2002 and four years in 2004. The survey measures 608 companies in around 10 manufacturing sectors.
The institute said Korea was farthest ahead of China in the steel and textile industries with a technology gap of 4.1 years, but it was only 3.4 years ahead in the electronics industry. China was gaining the most ground on Korea in the auto industry with 3.6 years, a remarkable advance compared to 4.4 years in 2004.
In a self-evaluation, the surveyed companies said technology levels at Korean manufacturers were only 81.3 percent of the world’s advanced economies. Korea’s information and telecommunication industry was rated at 83.3 percent compared to advanced levels, down from 84.1 percent in 2004, and the figures were 81.4 percent and 78.7 percent, respectively, for Korea’s heavy chemical industry and light industry.
“The R&D being done at local companies is not useful enough for Korea to shake off developing nations such as China because it is centered on production technology,” the institute said in the survey. “The focus should be shifted to fundamental research into acquiring core technologies.”
Meanwhile, Korea is also falling further behind advanced countries in the service sector, according to the nation’s central bank.
A Bank of Korea report released Friday said Korea’s total factor service sector productivity was 73 percent of that of the United States, compared with 80 percent in 1980s.
The retreat was partly due to a lack of foreign direct investment in Korea, the bank said. It was an average of 82 percent of that of six advanced EU members and 84 percent of that of Japan. Total factor productivity is used as a measure of overall productivity in the service sector. The survey compared nine countries for between 1987 and 2004.


By Moon Gwang-lip Staff Reporter [joe@joongang.co.kr]



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