S. Korea unveils investment, trade boosting measures
SEJONG-- South Korea on Monday unveiled a set of measures to spur corporate investment in tourism and the crafted beer industries as part of its efforts to prop up an economy that has been facing rising uncertainties at home and abroad.
Also, it will focus on fueling the upbeat trend of exports, the country's key economic driver, through increased overseas marketing packages and business meetings.
The Ministry of Strategy and Finance and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy submitted the plans in a trade and investment promotion meeting chaired by Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn in Seoul.
The measures came as Asia's fourth-largest economy has been struggling with faltering corporate investment amid a protracted economic slump for years.
In 2016, construction investment jumped 11 percent on-year on the back of a government-led real estate boom, while facility investment retreated 2.4 percent from a year earlier.
In the fourth quarter of last year, facility investment showed some signs of recovery to inch up 1.5 percent on-year, but the recovery pace is still sluggish to make a complete turnaround, according to the finance ministry.
It anticipated that the figures will unlikely get into a safe upside cycle in 2017 due to the recent political turmoil, the emergence of trade protectionism and the possible British exit from the European Union.
According to a survey by the state-run Korea Development Bank, local businesses will increase their 2017 investment by 0.1 percent, while a separate poll by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry showed that only 9 percent of companies have positive investment plans for this year.
"The government will make full efforts to improve the environment for corporate investment in a way to create jobs and bolster growth potential," Deputy Finance Minister Lee Chan-woo said in an early briefing held on Friday in Sejong. "The measures are aimed at encouraging the private sector to use their planned spending through reviving business sentiment and removing regulations."
As a first step, the government will group together eight counties and cities on the southern coastline, including Tongyeong and Yeosu, as a region to foster as one of the most attractive maritime tourist destinations in the world.
A coastal road some 480 kilometers long will be decorated with small viewpoints and areas to help visitors enjoy the scenery of the ocean.
South Korea's southern coastal area South Korea's southern coastal area
The government said it will review the administrative and legal processes required to build cable cars at tourist attractions throughout the country, and make them simpler to promote the sector. At the same time, safety regulations and punishments will be tightened.
To meet rising demand for green cars, it will have 200 charging stations for both electric and hydrogen vehicles built by 2025 by giving free licenses to local builders and operators for 30 years.
A bird's-eye view of a cable car in Mokpo A bird's-eye view of a cable car in Mokpo
The plan also includes easing tight regulations on microbreweries. Under current law, small breweries are not allowed to sell draft beers in retail stores such as supermarkets and are banned from using oats or rye as ingredients.
The government will lift such restrictions to attract more businesses to enter the market and offer wider choices to consumers.
Imported beers Imported beers
In order to boost exports, meanwhile, the trade ministry will allocate more than 60 percent of its 2017 budget for overseas marketing in the first six months of the year.
It has set aside 372.9 billion won (US$329.5 million) to support local exporters to do business abroad this year, up 30 percent from a year earlier. It will hold two thirds of 300 planned export consultation events in the first half, while 210 trade missions will be dispatched over the January-June period.
South Korea's outbound shipments fell in 2015 and 2016, marking the first two straight on-year drops in 58 years, due mainly to a downturn in global trade and a sharp drop in oil prices.
But in November, exports started to rise to grew 2.3 percent on-year on an upturn in crude prices. The numbers continued their upbeat mode in the following months to mark a 6.4 percent rise and 11.2 percent gain in December and January, respectively.
The government said it will do its utmost to maintain the upside trend until the end of 2017 to meet the earlier target of 2.9 percent on-year growth.
Source: Yonhap News Agency