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S. Korea expands free trade zones to promote exports amid virus pandemic

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

South Korea said Monday it will expand the size of its free-trade zones to provide more leeway to businesses in line with efforts to boost slowing exports amid the global virus pandemic.

Under the plan, the size of the free trade zone of Incheon International Airport, the main gateway to South Korea, will expand around 10 percent to 3.3 square kilometers, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

South Korea operates free trade zones in major cities, including Incheon and Busan, to promote foreign investment and exports by providing businesses with eased regulations and customs benefits.

The zones accommodate a wide array of businesses, from manufacturers to logistics firms.

The size of the zone at the Busan Port in the southern city of Busan will also expand by 30 percent to 12 square kilometers, it added.

The expansion will pave the way for South Korea to host a combined investment of 1 trillion won ($808 million) from 50 companies from different segments while creating some 22,000 new jobs, according to the ministry.

The decision comes in line with South Korea's efforts to revitalize its ailing exports amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been disrupting the global business activities and supply chains.

South Korea's exports fell 0.2 percent in March from a year earlier in the face of the growing economic fallout from the global new coronavirus pandemic, missing a market consensus of a 1.2 percent gain.

South Korea's exports had been decreasing for 14 consecutive months until a slight rebound in February. (Yonhap)
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