Machinery sector receives 20 billion won lift

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Machinery sector receives 20 billion won lift

The machinery industry will receive more than 20 billion won ($16.56 million) in investments from the private and public sectors until 2020, the government said Monday, in an attempt to catch up with the current “smart” trend.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said during a meeting in Seoul that it will bolster its support for Korean machinery companies and pour in as much as 20.2 billion won for the next three years to allow them to sync their products with the latest smart technologies.

Targets of the investment include the development of self-driving tractors and construction machines controlled by artificial intelligence as well as technology for 3-D printers.

“Our exports saw a significant rebound during the fourth quarter last year, which rose for the first time in two years,” the ministry said. “The machinery sector showed the best performance in 17 years last December to lead the way.”

Overall exports rose 1.9 percent year on year in the fourth quarter of 2016 while exports of machinery rose by 6.2 percent, the ministry said. In December alone, the machinery industry raked in $4.19 billion in exports.

One of the core projects the government aims to nurture is the smart construction system.

“Smart construction isn’t just about the automation of construction machines,” said Jin Seung-duk, an official from machinery, robotics and defense division in the trade ministry. “Smart construction also includes the interconnection of different machines through AI. Under the system, an AI would oversee the entire construction process and decide which machine to be deployed depending on the progress. The ministry is currently working on a smart construction project that we think will slash construction cost by as much as 20 percent. The bottom line is, it is about cutting cost and time committed into a project.”

The ministry also said it will help players in the machinery sector enforce necessary changes and become more future oriented.

“We’ve recently seen restructuring in industries such as shipbuilding,” the official explained. “Which means decrease in demand for machineries used in those sectors was inevitable. On the other hand, demand of machineries in newly emerging industries such as robotics continues to rise.

“Our goal is to utilize resources at our disposal such as the corporate revitalization act to enable companies in the industry to undergo restructuring so they can swiftly transition into new sectors.”

The corporate revitalization act, also dubbed the one-shot act, was implemented in August to speed up voluntary corporate restructuring by providing a range of state-led support such as tax benefits and subsidies.

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