‘New South’ leader to start off with 15 billion won

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‘New South’ leader to start off with 15 billion won

A committee that is supposed to boost business between Korea and South and Southeast Asia said Wednesday it has allocated about 15 billion won ($13.3 million) for financing for companies willing to do business in those regions.

President Moon Jae-in announced a New Southern Policy on visits to Southeast Asian countries a year ago to reduce Korea’s economic dependence on the United States and China and broaden ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) as well as fast-growing economies in South Asia like India. The committee was established in August.

“I have heard from many companies that one of the biggest difficulties in entering or doing business in [South and Southeast Asia] is financing,” said Kim Hyun-chul, head of the special committee on the New Southern Policy, during a meeting with reporters Wednesday on the sidelines of a meeting with heads of local small and midsized enterprises with operations in the Asia’s emerging markets.

“We applied for 15 billion won in our next year’s budget, mostly to offer credit guarantees,” Kim said. He added that the budget needs approval from the National Assembly.

Kim, an economic adviser to Moon, said state-run banks like the Korea Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of Korea will be a part of the financial support plan.

Kim said the committee will open so-called Korea Start-up Centers in Singapore and India next year. These will foster joint research and development projects between Korean and local start-ups, and make investments in start-ups.

The committee also plans to establish a council of companies interested in doing business in Asean so they can share each other’s marketing networks within this year.

Emphasizing the popularity of Korean popular culture in Asean and India, Kim said there’s a lot of potential for Korean companies in media, food, beauty and fashion.

According to the organization, trade between Korea and Asean was $132.1 billion in the first ten months of the year, a 7.6 percent increase year on year, and the figure is expected to surpass $160 billion by the end of the year. The committee’s goal is to increase the annual trade volume to over $200 billion by 2020.

“Bolstering new trade ties is necessary so that the Korean stock market doesn’t plunge every time Chinese markets do,” Kim said. “Asean and India, with economies growing by more than 5 percent every year, are blue ocean markets.”

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]
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