Published : 2013-09-04 20:31
Updated : 2013-09-04 20:31
The Knowledge Sharing Program, in which Korea hands over its experience of economic development to developing countries, has been quite successful since its inception in 2004. Jointly administered by the Ministry of Strategy and Finance and the Korea Development Institute, the program has so far benefited 39 nations with 460 projects.
What is offered through the KSP is Korea’s experience and know-how accumulated in the process of its economic growth since the 1960s, not goods or grants. Still, it has matched the particular needs of developing countries, with its relevance and effectiveness verified by the continuous rise in requests for development expertise from Korea. According to government figures, the number of projects undertaken as part of the program increased from 55 in 2009 to 108 in 2011 and 140 this year. There have been increasing calls for cooperation with Korea to go beyond industrial and financial sectors to cover climate change, population aging and the environment.
Considering this achievement, it may be natural for Seoul officials to be moving to make the most of KSP projects to provide local corporations with more business opportunities abroad. The Finance Ministry is said to be pushing to set up a consultative channel with the Federation of Korean Industries, the largest business lobby in the country, to facilitate the private sector’s participation in the program.
Equipped with broad industrial and technological know-how, local companies could usefully contribute to development models for less developed nations in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Such contribution would also give them more opportunities to take part in overseas development projects. The implementation of the KSP has already resulted in Korean companies receiving orders for infrastructure projects in some developing countries including the Dominican Republic and Honduras.
In a move to further increase business opportunities for local enterprises abroad, the government is also considering linking KSP work to projects financed by Seoul’s Economic Development Cooperation Fund, which was established in 1987 to provide long-term loans to developing nations at low interest rates.
The strategy of combining the official assistance scheme with the private sector’s know-how may also prove to be effective in carrying out a package of development projects requested by an increasing number of developing countries. Korea may be the country best positioned to offer expertise on diverse fields ranging from infrastructure construction and farming to banking systems and Internet networks in a fashion tailored for specific recipients.
In the process, however, Koreans should keep in mind that the most important thing is to forge true partnerships with the less developed parts of the world on a long-term basis. They must avoid giving the impression of sticking to short-term interests.
In terms of the scale of development assistance, it is beyond Korea’s means to level the playing field with larger economies, especially its two giant neighbors ― China and Japan. Given these conditions, it is imperative for the country to focus on cultivating friendly and cooperative partnerships with developing nations, which will help it go through an extended period of global deceleration.