At port, Moon encourages exports in 2020

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At port, Moon encourages exports in 2020


President Moon Jae-in, center, looks at a Kia Motors Niro, which was the first electric vehicle to be exported this year at the Pyeongtaek-Dangjin Port in Gyeonggi on Friday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

President Moon Jae-in visited a port shipping electric vehicles (EV) from Kia Motors overseas, encouraging high tech exports as his first economic message of the new year.

“A new decade for Korea to become one of the world’s top four exporters in 2030 has dawned,” Moon said on a visit to the Pyeongtaek-Dangjin Port in Gyeonggi. “We are the world’s first country to mass produce hydrogen-fueled vehicles and have the greatest year-on-year increase in environment-friendly vehicles in the world,” he added.

“Last year, EV exports doubled, hydrogen-fueled vehicles more than tripled,” Moon said, “while the accumulated export of environment-friendly vehicles amounted to 740,000 units.”

Moon expressed confidence in a rebound in Korea’s exports, after Korea’s export shrunk “a little” last year.

“The global economy and trade conditions will improve compared to last year,” Moon said. “We have seen that possibility in December.”

Korea’s export in 2019 overall saw a double-digit drop, the first in a decade. The government said exports dropped 10.3 percent compared to a year earlier. The last time exports fell in the double-digits was in 2009, when they dropped 13.9 percent.

Exports have fallen for 13 consecutive months since December 2018, the longest stretch since 2015 and 2016, when exports registered negative growth for 19 consecutive months.

But the decline dropped into the single digits — 5.2 percent compared to a year earlier — for the first time in seven months in December.

“The government will focus on turning the export indexes to positive growth while further speeding up innovative growth,” Moon vowed.

The president said the government will expand into new markets through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which is a multilateral FTA among economies in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as through bilateral FTA with countries in Central and South America.

“We will further increase small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) exports through the establishment of the Brand K expansion strategy and quadrupling export finance for SMEs,” Moon said.

The Blue House said in a statement that Moon’s visit to the Pyeongtaek-Dangjin Port was meant to demonstrate the government’s desire to push exports and look for new growth engines for exports such as environment-friendly vehicles.

Kia Motors’ CEO Park Han-woo, who attended Monday’s event, told the president that this year his company will sell 220,000 environment-friendly vehicles overseas.

“That’s a 3.5 percent increase, or 58,000 units, more than the previous year [in 2019],” Park told Moon.

Moon in response emphasized the government’s support for new growth engines in export.

“We will increase the number of high value-added exports by focusing on three new industries: system semiconductors, vehicles of the future and 5G connectivity-related industries,” Moon said.

The government has set this year’s growth target at 2.4 percent, higher than Bank of Korea’s forecast of 2.3 percent.

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