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KITA to step up support for small exporters, service firms

Chairman SaKong calls for need to foster services industry, FTAs


The Korea International Trade Association will boost support for small and medium exporters and the services sector to help the country achieve $1 trillion trade this year, its chairman SaKong Il said Thursday.

“The Korean trade industry achieved a notable result last year despite the sluggish global economy. We have become the world’s seventh-largest exporter and ninth-largest trader,” SaKong told reporters.

“I think $1 trillion trade will be possible if we try hard although the global economy is yet to fully recover and there are multiple risks.”

To obtain the target, SaKong said KITA will make efforts to shift the so-called “Korea discount” and initiate a “Korea premium,” with the improved national reputation Korea has achieved through the G20 Summit and Business Summit in Seoul on Nov. 11-12. 
SaKong Il
SaKong Il

Korea discount refers to a trend where local firms’ shares or products are underpriced compared to those of advanced countries due to a weak national brand value.

SaKong particularly stressed the need for KITA to step up support for small and medium firms which typically encounter stronger Korea discount phenomena than conglomerates.

“We are planning to offer more consulting and training services for them, while listening to and presenting solutions to difficulties they come across,” he said.

SaKong also pointed out that Korean exports tend to rely too much on the manufacturing industry. He said the country should nurture more exporters in the services industry ― such as tourism, medicine ― as they can create more added value and jobs.

SaKong said the institution will also seek ways to maximize the free trade agreement with the European Union which takes effect in July and the Korea-U.S. FTA, which is expected to be ratified in the near future.

Meanwhile, SaKong hinted at a possibility of running for the Managing Director post at International Monetary Fund to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

“I acknowledge that some experts in the United States are discussing my name as a candidate,” he said, adding that it was part of their efforts to reform global institutions like IMF and World Bank.

The need to reform global institutions in order to raise their credibility has been constantly been proposed, he said.

Many now say that views of emerging economies and developing nations should be reflected there, as the global economy has changed considerably since the 2008 financial crisis, he added.

Still, SaKong maintained a cautious stance as Strauss-Kahn’s term does not end until November 2012. The election for the next IMF head is slated for May next year.

By Koh Young-aah (youngaah@heraldcorp.com)
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