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Trade and industry ministry to spend 3% less on R&D in 2017

South Korea's trade ministry will spend 3 percent less on research and development (R&D) in 2017, officials said Tuesday.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said the R&D budget allocated for the ministry for next year is set at 3.33 trillion won ($2.86 billion), down from 3.44 trillion won in 2016.

The ministry's R&D budget has been on a downward trend, taking 18.3 percent of the total spending in 2015 compared to 17.2 percent in 2017.

South Korea's combined budget for R&D will reach 19.5 trillion won in 2017.

Of the total, a large portion is allocated to securing new growth engines amid the fast-paced industrial transformation dubbed the "fourth industrial revolution," officials said.

A total of 3.45 trillion won will be poured in 2017, up 2.5 percent from a year earlier, to cope with the fourth industrial revolution, characterized by a fusion of cutting-edge technologies such as big data and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Noticeably, next year's R&D budget for various new-emerging science and technology projects, including smart cars, robots and semiconductors, will be increased by 43.4 percent on-year to 211.7 billion won.

The allocation for R&D in renewable energy will also be increased by 6.5 percent on-year to 243.2 billion won in 2017, officials said.

The 2017 R&D budget for six sectors such as unmanned aerial vehicle and augmented reality (AR) was newly earmarked at 100.7 billion won.

South Korea had the highest ratio of research and development budget to gross domestic product (GDP) among the world's advanced nations in 2015, a report showed. The country's R&D intensity, or R&D expenditures as a percentage of its GDP, came to 4.23 percent, the highest among member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). (Yonhap)