Published : 2013-10-02 19:44
Updated : 2013-10-02 19:44
|Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Yoon Sang-jick. (Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald)|
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, or MOTIE, is one of the top two ministries driving the creative economy agenda, along with the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.
“Creative ideas and their convergence with information and communications technologies, or ICTs, are not enough to transform Korea into a creative economy. The development of a creative economy ultimately depends on whether or not new markets are created.’’
As an example for new market creation based on ICT, the 57-year-old industry minister picked the energy demand management market based on energy storage systems, or ESS.
At the end of August, MOTIE announced a policy to encourage companies, both public and private, to install ESS in their power-consuming office buildings or sites by offering a variety of incentives and revising related rules and regulations. The policy came out in the course of finding solutions to cope with the recurring peak-season power shortage issue.
The policy is giving a boost to the ESS market, which is still in its infancy in Korea. Industry watchers forecast that the ministry’s policy will increase the market size to 900 billion won ($837.7 million) by 2017. The market is currently estimated to be worth 10 billion won. Local ESS solution providers like Samsung SDI have said they will accelerate the commercialization of high-capacity ESS solutions.
“Likewise, a key role of our ministry is to trigger new market formation by advancing business environment and facilitating transactions,” Yoon said.
He continued to say that an ICT-driven market could be created within existing industries as well.
“The offshore plant business, where the nation’s top shipbuilders are turning to, could be a good example of a new market in a red ocean,’’ he added.
Upgrading the industry ecosystem
Besides a new market creation drive, another big task facing Minister Yoon is advancing and upgrading the nation’s industry ecosystem to seek continued economic growth under a creative economy.
“The Korean economy faces structural challenges, which leads to sluggish growth,’’ the minister said.
The nation’s economic growth rate has been stuck in the 3 percent range for the past few years and the number of world-leading made-in-Korea products has been falling since it peaked at 73 in 2009.
“The Korean economy and industries have sought growth based on the ‘fast follower’ strategy, but the strategy does not work well when products and services created by innovative ideas and technologies ideas are creating economic value. It is time for Korea to adopt a (creativity and technology-driven) ‘first mover’ growth strategy,” the chief policymaker said.
When it was launched in February, the new administration also explained that Korea must seek a creative economy because of rising demand for a new growth strategy.
For a paradigm shift in the nation’s growth strategy, the top industry policymaker launched initiatives in the first half of this year prioritizing the advancement of the nation’s industry ecosystem, where big businesses have long been dominant.
The minister has made efforts to correct unfair business practices and relations, which have long been prevalent between big businesses and their suppliers, while urging big businesses to build cooperative, win-win partnerships with their smaller venders. Some critics and big business lobbying groups criticized the move, however, claiming that such an “economic democratization” drive is the role and responsibility of the Fair Trade Commission and has a negative impact on business activities.
“I believe the ministry has to play an important role in seeking economic democratization in that the drive is aimed at rooting a healthier industry ecosystem and ultimately regaining economic vitality, not hampering business activities,” Yoon said.
In line with advancing the nation’s industry ecosystem, the industry ministry has developed policies to bolster small and medium-sized enterprises and start-ups, and to improve their productivity, which is crucial for developing a creative economy.
For this, the ministry in May launched an “industry innovation 3.0 movement” with big and small businesses, a campaign to boost the productivity of SME suppliers for sustainable growth.
Another step in forming the industrial foundation for a creative economy is the newly launched project to upgrade the nation’s industrial complexes, Yoon said.
Industrial complexes, which have played a critical role in driving Korea’s economic growth for the past 50 years, are losing competitiveness and their previously young workforces.
“They will be remodeled as creative and animated clusters to attract the youth again,’’ the minister said.
According to the ministry, there are 102 industrial complexes that are more than 20 years old.
As a pilot test, the ministry will target two industrial complexes this month and develop a master plan to renovate them, using them to create a model for future renovations of other industrial complexes.
Asked about upcoming big projects for the creative economy agenda, Minister Yoon underlined a talent cultivation plan for high-value-added industries such as embedded software and basic engineering design, in both of which Korea lags behind advanced economies.
“A structural issue ahead of Korean industries is to raise competitiveness in high-value-added areas like basic engineering design in their business value chains,” he stressed.
Minister Yoon, who served as a vice minister for industry and technology in the previous administration’s Ministry of Knowledge, graduated from Seoul National University with a major in international economics in 1981 and received his doctoral degree in law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2007.
By Seo Jee-yeon (email@example.com)
Yoon Sang-jick's Profile
• Born in 1956 in Busan
• Studied international economics at Seoul National University
• Earned his master’s degree in law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, U.S. in 1998
• Received his S.J.D. (Doctor of Juridical Science) degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, U.S. in 2007
• Served as vice minister for industry and technology, Ministry of Knowledge Economy, from 2011-March 2013
• Director general for industry and knowledge economy, Ministry of Knowledge Economy, in 2009
• Director general, Presidential Committee on Northeast Asian Cooperation Initiatives, in 1999