South Korea's industry minister said on Jan. 31, 2019 the government will make all-out efforts to keep the country's export growth going amid potential hurdles going forward.
"All related governmental bodies are focused on supporting the country's exports," Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo said during a meeting with reporters.
Last year, South Korea's exports came to US$605.5 billion, up 5.5 percent from a year earlier, setting a new record.
Industry watchers, however, expressed concerns that outbound shipments may lose steam this year on various factors, ranging from the trade dispute between the United States and China, along with the falling chip prices, which are the main export products for Asia's fourth-largest economy.
South Korea's exports stood at US$25.7 billion in the first 20 days of January, down a sharp 14.6 percent from a year earlier.
Sung claimed the government will announce a comprehensive plan on supporting exports next month, which will potentially include the roles of different ministries in terms of promoting exports.
The policymaker added that while the government will seek to lift regulations to promote businesses, it will also take public values into consideration.
"Regulations on safety are important, but lifting those that are redundant is important as well in terms of industries and the economy," Sung said. "The question is how to harmonize the two sides. One is not more important than the other."
The minister then vowed to work closely with foreign companies operating in South Korea.
"Companies (in the country) invested in by foreigners can be considered South Korean firms," Sung said, claiming the government is utilizing various channels to meet officials from such businesses.
The minister said he acknowledges that foreign-invested enterprises are expressing regret over the abolishment of tax benefits but claimed the change falls in line with global standards.
Sung added the ministry will make equal efforts to support foreign firms as domestic companies, saying they both create jobs and contribute to the economy.
Concerning the energy segment, the senior official said the government will take various factors into consideration before determining a price hike.
The government's move to break away from nuclear energy sources, however, will only have a limited impact on prices, he claimed. There has been criticism that the country may increase electricity fees to cope with the potential decline in supply following the shut downs of nuclear plants. (Yonhap)
Cho Kyung-hee firstname.lastname@example.org
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