Ministry focuses on synergy in trade, industries

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Ministry focuses on synergy in trade, industries

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, formerly called the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, will focus on creating synergy between trade and industry, the ministry said yesterday.

The ministry decided to put “trade” before “industry” in its English name because it expects to be recognized as the Trade Ministry by other countries’ governments, it said.

Minister Yoon Sang-jik reported to President Park Geun-hye five major tasks of the ministry for the next five years, including combining trade with industry, creating a cooperative environment for large and small businesses and establishing a stabilized energy system.

Since the industry ministry has gotten back trade functions 15 years after they were given to the foreign ministry by the Kim Dae-jung administration, it is highly concerned about harmony between industry and trade.

“For the past 15 years, the Ministry of Trade operated mainly based on negotiating free trade agreements, but now we need a new trade policy that is deeply linked to industries,” Yoon said. “There are other trade policy tools, including transfer of technology and direct investment other than FTAs.”

Choi Kyung-lim, the chief trade negotiator who originally belonged to the former government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, will be the third vice minister at the industry ministry.

Until the Lee Myung-bak administration, the negotiating process of FTAs, performed by the former foreign ministry, was separated from the implementation that was done by the former knowledge ministry, triggering some inefficiencies in the country’s overhaul trade policy, according to officials at the industry ministry.

Minister Yoon said one goal of the ministry’s trade function is to encourage as many as 300 small exporters to reach $100 million in trade volume by 2017 by providing more financial and policy support.

The government’s support for trade insurance for small exporters will increase to 35 trillion won ($31.5 billion) this year, up from 29 trillion won last year.

In line with President Park’s stance to protect small enterprises, the ministry will try to root out unfair transaction practices between large and small companies.

Together with the Fair Trade Commission, the ministry will investigate price cuts demanded by conglomerates within the next three months.

The ministry will also work on devising long-term plans to foster the Information Convergence Technology (ICT) industry in cooperation with the Future Planning and Science Ministry. Specifically, the ministry will focus on development of smart cars, software and offshore plants.

For balanced economic development of different regions, the ministry will ramp up financial support for R&D costs of companies in non-Seoul areas by 35 percent until 2017.

This year, it will allocate 360 billion won for biomedical technology in Chungcheong, LED technology in Jeolla and shipbuilding technology in South Gyeongsang areas.

By Song Su-hyun []

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