By Kim Boram
SEJONG, Jan. 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will post a total of US$510 billion in exports for 2017 through reorganizing its industrial portfolio and focusing on higher-added-value consumer goods and services, the government said Thursday.
In its annual policy plan submitted to Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said the country's exports will rebound to grow 2.9 percent on-year this year, snapping the losing streak for the second consecutive year.
"The government is aimed at making a turnaround in exports in the New Year by carrying out structural reform in exports and taking swift action against global trade issues," said the ministry.
Outbound shipments of Asia's fourth-largest economy slumped 5.9 percent to $495.6 billion last year, marking the first negative growth for two straight years in more than half a century due largely to a slowdown in global trade and a drop in oil prices.
In order to achieve the target, the government will redraw all aspects of the country's exports, ranging from items, players and markets to systems.
It will pick 80 potential businesses to help them create global brands that bring in global sales of up to 1 trillion won ($828.2 million), while exports of nine service industries such as intellectual property, software, logistics and cultural content will also be on the government's supporting list.
The ministry said it has been making efforts to change the country's industrial structure and focus more on consumer goods and service-oriented industries, as South Korea's exports have been largely dependent on intermediate goods involving machinery, petrochemicals and steel plates.
The government will also expand state-backed funds to 229 trillion won from 221 trillion won to help small and medium-sized companies go overseas and afford marketing costs.
In line with a plan to boost exports, expansion and improvement of free trade agreements (FTAs) is on the front burner in the Seoul government's 2017 policy plan.
Adding to the current FTA network of some 16 countries and economic blocs including the United States, China and the European Union, South Korea is working on striking deals with other populous Asian and South American markets.
It held preliminary talks with the Southern Common Market, or Mercosur, in November last year, along with follow-up negotiations with India and Chile to update the clauses of the bilateral pacts.
With the upcoming inauguration of the new U.S. Donald Trump government, the Seoul government will strive to stress the reciprocal effect of the Korea-U.S. FTA, which has been under fire from the president-elect.
The government will also speed up its structural reform in key industries including shipbuilding, steelmaking and petrochemicals, which have been hit hard by a deep slump in global demand amid low oil prices.
To bolster 12 selected new industries including smart self-driving cars, Internet of Things home appliances, drones and robots, the public and private sector will make an investment of a combined 17 trillion won in 2017.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance will focus on propping up the economy, which seems to lose steam amid rising uncertainties at home and abroad, and easing the tightened job market for young people.
It will spend more than 30 percent of the 400 trillion won budget earmarked for 2017 in the first three months of the year to pump-prime the economy from the beginning of the year to achieve its growth target of 2.6 percent.
Asia's fourth-largest economy is projected to grow 2.6 percent in 2016, with its third-quarter growth hitting 2.6 percent and that of the fourth quarter posting 1.9 percent.
The government and state-funded corporations will newly hire more than 60,000 people this year to pave the way for young job seekers as the country's youth unemployment rate has been hovering around 10 percent for the last few years.
Lee Kyung-sik email@example.com
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