Foreign buys from Korean online malls top $344M

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Foreign buys from Korean online malls top $344M

Trade authorities said yesterday that direct purchases by foreigners from Korean online shopping malls totaled 370 billion won ($344 million) last year, about 14 times larger than data previously reported by the Customs Service.

The data is from nine large and small online shopping malls, including eBay Korea, Lotte Home Shopping and online fashion mall Stylenanda, according to the trade authorities.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) yesterday hosted a roundtable discussion at KITA headquarters in southern Seoul.

The ministry said the customs figure of $24 million didn’t include merchandise handled by express shippers such as DHL, FedEx and Korea Post’s EMS.

“As Koreans’ spending at foreign online malls is reaching almost 2 trillion won, I hope Korean businesses take a more aggressive approach to present their products to potential foreign customers using the nation’s well-equipped IT infrastructure,” said Lee Kwan-seop, first vice minister of the Trade Ministry.

Foreigners’ direct purchases from Korea are way too small compared to the spending of Koreans on overseas goods. However, trade experts say “reverse direct purchases” are slowly rising.

According to a Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry study released on Oct. 1, China is still the largest buyer of Korean products via online shopping malls. Korean sellers should focus on the Chinese market, it said, where purchases from non-Chinese online malls reached $35.2 billion last year and is forecast to reach $120 billion in 2018.

As part of a public-private effort to further expand the e-commerce market, the Korean government rolled out policy measures to boost financial support and reduce entrance barriers.

The Small and Medium Business Administration unveiled its plan to give 1,500 small manufacturers an opportunity to sell their products at five global online malls: eBay, Amazon, Rakuten, TaoBao and QOO10. The administration also provides free assistance in setting up sales and marketing strategies and product registration, serving 1,000 companies this year.

KITA also will open its online shopping mall Kmall24 for small manufacturers, while offering trade academy classes.

The Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra) will provide shipping subsidies of up to 4 million won per year to about 500 Korean small manufacturers and retailers.

By the end of the year, Kotra will open two shipping centers in Los Angeles and Tokyo dedicated to retail sales. The agency takes care of all shipping processes, from storage and wrapping to shipping and returns.


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