Chasing greater trade No. 1 priority

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Chasing greater trade No. 1 priority

Promoting trade will continue to be at the top of the government’s policy priorities next year, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance said yesterday, as the country seeks to create tens of thousands of jobs based on its growing exports and recently approved free trade agreement with the United States.

Korea’s trade volume soared to over $1 trillion this year for the first time in the country’s history, making it only the ninth nation to do so.

“Next year will be an important year for Korea as the country will take its first step toward achieving $2 trillion in trade on the back of new opportunities created by FTAs with giant markets such as the United States,” the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in its annual report to the president on its objectives for 2012.

To help further expand the country’s trade, especially exports, the ministry will increase its trade liability insurance for companies entering newly emerging markets to $86.2 billion from the current $78.7 billion, the ministry said.

Also at the heart of the plan is the development of new growth engines, which include a new technology still at the very early stage of development that will enable electricity to be accumulated and stored indefinitely, according to Minister of Knowledge Economy Hong Suk-woo.

“It is pretty much a giant battery that can permanently store electricity,” he said in a meeting with reporters shortly after his report to the president.

“For example, the country’s electricity reserve rate is at about 6 million kilowatts, which means the entire 6 million kilowatts of electricity is being constantly wasted without ever being used. With the new technology, the entire amount will be saved and reserved for later use.”

The minister said the technology is expected to take up to six years to develop, but that the government will try to speed this up from next year.

In addition, the government will strengthen its early warning and control system to monitor and prepare for any dramatic changes in prices of key commodities, including oil, cooper and iron, which could greatly affect the country’s exports.

Such measures are also aimed at “pre-emptively preparing for an economic slowdown in 2012,” Vice Minister of Knowledge Economy Yoon Sang-jik told reporters.

The Finance Ministry earlier slashed its growth outlook for 2012 to 3.7 percent from 4.5 percent, citing what it called “continued uncertainties from the euro zone fiscal debt crisis and a possible global recession.”

The ministry noted such uncertainties may also affect the country’s exports.


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