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Seoul seeks to nurture bio-health as growth driver

South Korea will seek ways to turn the bio-health industry into one of the country's key growth drivers, the finance ministry said Wednesday.

The government will soon release packages of measures that focus on supporting research and development activities at bio-health companies, offering tax benefits and easing related regulations, Economy and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said in a meeting with officials and industry figures in Seoul.

"If we capitalize on our advanced (information and communication technology), skilled medical workforce, and high-end hospitals, the bio-health industry can be transformed into a mainstay industry like semiconductors," Hong said.

The world's bio-health industry will grow by an average of 5.4 percent each year to reach 10 trillion won by 2022, he said.   

(Flickr @Caroline Davis2010)
(Flickr @Caroline Davis2010)

South Korea is home to the world's two biggest chipmakers, Samsung Electronics Co. and SK hynix Inc. Semiconductors have long contributed to the economic growth of Asia's fourth-biggest economy.

At the meeting, bio-health companies such as Yuhan Corp. and Hanmi Pharmaceutical Co. called on the government to deliver financial support to their R&D activities, further ease regulations on their businesses and help them to collaborate with universities and hospitals on developing new drugs. 

"To transform the bio-health industry into a major growth engine which exceeds automobiles and semiconductors, the government needs to help global standards take root in the industry," Seo Jung-jin, chairman of biopharmaceutical firm Celltrion, Inc., said during the meeting. (Yonhap)