[VIEWPOINT] Policies to Bolster the EconomyTo Lead the East Asian Economy, Strong Policies Are Needed
Since the fourth quarter of last year, the Korean economy has been suffering from the drastic fall of the stock market and a slowdown in consumption and investment because of the anxiety that has spread from the market. As we move into the 21st century in this situation, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy has decided to advocate measures of building national wealth and promoting good neighborhood policies. This reflects the widespread consensus that in order to overcome current difficulties, self-confidence and firm awareness of our objectives are needed.
At first glance, building national wealth and promoting good neighborhood policies give a nuance of strengthening and enriching military power. But it is totally different from the highbrow and ultranationalistic attitude implied. Building national wealth symbolizes the scenario of the economic growth of Korea in the 21st century and good neighborhood policies stress our basic philosophy of leading the East Asian economy and cultivating the Korean economy.
Building national wealth may not be easy to accomplish, since the Korean economy is in a period of devoting all its energy to overcoming the harsh conditions it faces. But we have a firm belief that national enrichment is not a mirage and that in the near future it can be achieved. This self-confidence arises from scientific views, which face Korea's possibility and potential growth for what they are. If the number of current problems is solved according to plans, the Korean economy will off to a fresh start.
The most urgent issue is the successful conclusion of restructuring. This is connected directly with the recovery of market confidence and the creation of revolutionary management practices that meet international standards. Secondly, the proper entrepreneur spirit of the venture corporations should be expanded to all sectors of industry to initiate the age of information, knowledge and technology. And fostering environments that promote a continuous increase of foreign investment and active launches by leading multinational corporations is needed to enhance productivity and to secure the know-how of advancing into world markets.
Apart from this, examining Korea's industry foundation will be a great help in recovering self-confidence. Korea possess the world's foremost industries in semiconductors, shipbuilding, synthetic fibers and liquid crystal plates. Korea's automobile, steel and machinery industries have come close to the level of the advanced nations. And the knowledge information industry infrastructure, strongly pushed forward by the Korean government, is on the heels of those in the most highly developed countries. These features show that Korea has an excellent industrial foundation.
But Korea should no longer persist in stressing only outward high economic growth. To achieve a strong economy, changes towards innovative leading development strategies, which enhance productivity, and added value by knowledge, information and technology are needed. Also, the economic structure led by the new industries of the 21st century should be established to pursue growth that focuses on profitability and competitiveness. In this structure, the manufacturing sector should amount to 30 percent of the gross domestic product.
Through strong promotion of this policy combined with a continued annual economic growth of 6 percent, the amount of GDP per person will exceed $30,000 in 10 years. This would enable Korea to take its place among the top nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Starting this year, the Korean economy should shake off out-of-date practices and embrace these policies. The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Economy will recall the spirit and experience of the previous export drive to renew its determination in executing the historical summons.
The writer is the Minister of Commerce, Industry and Energy.
by Shin Kook-Hwan