LA LETTRE DU KOTRA Décembre 2001 Centre Coréen du Commerce Extérieur et des Investissements
KOTRA PARIS - 36, avenue Hoche - 75008 Paris Téléphone : +33 (0) 142 25 09 57 - Télécopie : +33 (0) 142 25 09 50 - email : email@example.com M. Seong-Kuk Hong - Directeur Adjoint M. Frédéric Claveau - Responsable investissements
Changement d'adresse URL :Le site web du KISC - Korea Investment Service Center change d'adresse url. A compter du 1er janvier 2002, vous devrez taper www.investkorea.org au lieu de www.kisc.org
NOTEZ LE ! Le site web de l'ombudsman du KOTRA a changé ! Le nouveau site web est le : http://www.i-ombudsman.or.kr
S O M M A I R E
¤ RELATIONS INTERNATIONALES ET BILATERALES World peace and EU-Korea cooperation Korea's External Aid Lowest among OECD Countries Brigitte Bardot Pleads With Koreans : Stop Eating Dogs!' Brigitte Bardot reçoit près de 1000 messages d'injures et menaces Les Sud-Coréens en colère contre Brigitte Bardot World Cup organizer to tell Bardot about South Korean' love for animals Kim's UK Trip Ringing Registers for Trade and Investment Deals Kim's European Trip Brings $10.4 billion in Business Jeux vidéo : Les Français se sont révélés de bons joueurs lors des 1ers Cyberjeux mondiaux de Séoul ¤ POLITIQUE ECONOMIQUE, MACRO-ECONOMIE ET RESTRUCTURATIONS S'adapter ou mourir : entrée de la Chine dans l'OMC Free Trade Seen to Benefit Korea, China, Japan La Corée du Sud, futur carrefour économique ? IMF Forecasts Korean Economy to Grow by 3.2 Percent in 2002 Croissance prévisionnelle : 3,7 % en 2002 Korean Economy to Grow by 3.7% in 2002: KIET L'économie coréenne résiste mieux que celle de ses concurrents asiatiques La Corée du Sud résiste pour l'instant à la crise économique Key Industries to Stage Recovery in 2002 Korea Pulling Out of Business Slump, Foreign Institutions Say Foreign Investment Shows Good Month Korea Regarded as One of Best Investment Spots President Kim Vows to Double Ratio of Foreign Investment to GDP Gyeonggi Province propels Korean economy; Strives to offer best investment environment for SMEs and foreign businesses ¤ SECTEURS ÉCONOMIQUES Management, questions interculturelles : Institutional Investors Negligent in Overseeing Corporate Management 58% of Koreans Welcome More Entry of Foreign Firms Panel Eyeing Applying Domestic Fair Trade Laws to Foreign Firms in Korea Foreign Firms Celebrate Success Foreign Firms Increasing Support for Female Employees Factory Curbs Are Eased : exemption given to foreign companies Finance, banque et bourse : Naissance d'une super banque Taking it to the Bank Bullish Market Prompting Banks to Raise Investment in Stocks Technologies de l'information Payoff from IT Investment below Expectations: FKI FDI Continues to Pour into IT Industry Microsoft Introduces e-Hospital in Korea Télécommunications : Mobile Telephone Makers Tapping EU Market Agroalimentaire : La Corée du Sud interdit les aliments à l'or Transports : Le transport : facteur essentiel de promotion de la coopération régionale The Korean auto market The Trend to Big Medium-Sized Cars and SUVs Customer Service is the Key The Imported Car Market Swedish Truck Firm to Open Plant Here Sidérurgie : Launching of New Steel Behemoth in Europe Beneficial to POSCO Défense : La bataille commerciale et technologique pour la prochaine génération d'avions de combat Further delay urged for 'F-X' Blair to Make Pitch for Eurofighter Recently deployed US F15 fighters return home to Alaska this week South Korean Missile system " useless " ¤ ENTREPRISES CORÉENNES Un nouveau cadre réglementaire pour les conglomérats Top 4 Groups to Expand Investments in 2002 Samsung Electronics lance un nouveau procédé de production de puces électroniques Samsung est devenu en un an un géant mondial des terminaux mobiles Hynix, Micron Move Closer to Alliance Rattrapé par ses créanciers, Daewoo Motors doit réduire sa production Business Opportunities for Korean Venture Companies Still Great ¤ ENTREPRISES FRANÇAISES Lafarge crée une joint-venture en Corée Lafarge : joint-venture en Corée Société Générale : nomination de Michel MACAGNO comme Directeur Général de la Banque de Financement et d'Investissement pour la région Asie Pacifique Renault boosting investments at Samsung
- WORLD PEACE AND EU-KOREA COOPERATION
Following is the address by President Kim Dae-jung at the European Parliament. - Ed.
President Nicole Fontaine, EU Commission President Romano Prodi, distinguished guests,
It is with deep emotion that I stand on this podium today. I have always admired the European Parliament, a great hall of democracy. This is the place where the unprecedented and monumental task of European unity was achieved. Here, the members of the European Parliament are working for the realization of democracy, economic prosperity and social justice in Europe and the world.
It is a boundless pleasure and honor to speak from this most distinguished place. I am deeply grateful, moreover, to President Fontaine for her friendly words of welcome.
When I was elected President four years ago, Korea faced a foreign exchange crisis. EU members responded to my appeals and supported our efforts to overcome the difficulties by sending, among other things, an investment mission. Thanks to such support, we were able to recover from the crisis. Neither the Korean people nor I will ever forget your friendly help.
The 21st century is witnessing the greatest revolution in history. It is the great revolution in knowledge and information and globalization.
In the 20th century, tangible elements, including land, capital and labor, were the sources of economic development. In the 21st century, however, intangible elements such as knowledge and information, creativity and a spirit of adventure are becoming the core of competitive strength. Two hundred years after the industrial revolution, the final curtain has come down on the paradigm of the age of industrialization. Now, the age of knowledge-based economies is opening up. Even poor nations and poor individuals will now be able to create wealth if they can make the best use of a computer.
However, humanity is also faced with a very serious problem. It is the problem of the digital divide. More than 75 percent of benefits from enhanced information capabilities are concentrated in advanced nations. Developing nations are being overlooked. The gap in information capabilities between the advanced and developing nations means a widening gap between the rich and poor. And the faster information capabilities are enhanced, the faster the gap between the rich and poor is widened.
On the other hand, the information revolution is inevitably accelerating openness and globalization. National boundaries are becoming practically meaningless as enormous amounts of information are spreading around the world instantaneously. Cultural conflicts occur. The worsening of poverty and cultural conflicts leads to various kinds of fanaticism. Thus, enhanced information capabilities and globalization could threaten world peace in the 21st century. I would like to stress that this is a very serious problem.
The digital divide is further raising the level of antagonism between the rich and poor within nations. We must stop this trend. I would like to tell you briefly about our experience. To overcome such problems, Korea has been pushing a policy of productive welfare. Productive welfare means developing the potential of low-income people while guaranteeing them a basic standard of living so that they can stand on their own feet.
In particular, we have put priority on systematically educating young people and the disadvantaged in information capabilities. This effort involves a broad spectrum of people, including elementary and middle school students, several million housewives, 600,000 members of the armed forces, the elderly, the physically challenged and even prison inmates. With this policy, we are trying to prevent a digital divide, which would create a gap in earnings, and cut off the vicious circle of poverty being handed down from parent to child. Korea built the first nationwide super-speed information network in the world, and more than half of the 46 million citizens are now using the Internet.
To resolve the basic problem of the digital divide, there has to be international interest and cooperation. I believe that advanced nations, including the members of the EU, must use their leadership to help developing countries with various kinds of support, including the construction of an information infrastructure. Korea will actively participate in such efforts; we have, in fact, already begun cooperating with individual countries.
Now I would like to touch on the future of Korea and the EU. I proposed the construction of a super-speed information network at the ASEM summit meeting in Seoul last year. Leaders of all the member nations gave it their active support. Under this project, the "Cyber Silk Road" was built linking Asia and Europe. It is a new millennium project aimed at further activating exchanges between Asia and Europe by realizing an "e-Eurasia." In this respect, it is very fortunate, I believe, that the Trans-Eurasian Information Network is proceeding smoothly at present with the cooperation of all ASEM member nations, including EU members.
There is another project that would greatly promote exchanges between Europe and Asia. It is the construction of the "Iron Silk Road," directly linking Korea with Europe by land. For this project, one task has to be carried out without fail. It is the linking of the railway between South and North Korea. This railway has been cut off for the past 50 years at the Demilitarized Zone. On the occasion of the historic inter-Korean summit last year, the South and North agreed to relink the railway and a highway. South Korea and Europe could be connected if we link only 14 kilometers of rail.
When the trans-Korean railway is linked with the trans-China or the trans-Siberia railways, a train leaving London could reach Seoul and Busan via Paris, Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Siberia or China. Then, goods could be shipped to all Pacific regions from Busan, the third largest container port in the world. Transportation costs would be cut by 30 percent and time shortened by two thirds.
On the day when the construction of the "Cyber Silk Road" and the "Iron Silk Road" are both completed, Asia and Europe will practically become one landmass.
Essentially, Asia and Europe are geographically one continent. Historically, they have been interacting for a long time. From the 5th and 6th centuries on, a large number of people and goods have traveled by land over the Silk Road and by sea through the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf. The cultures of the two regions have contributed considerably to each other's development.
In modern times, the West's democratic system, the industrial revolution and cultural achievements have exerted great influence on the politics, economy and culture of Asia. Meanwhile, Asia, as the source of the Tigris-Euphrates, Indus, and Yellow River civilizations as well as the source of the spiritual cultures of Confucianism and Buddhism, greatly influenced the entire world, including Europe. Asia taught Europe how to make gunpowder and paper. It also exerted great influence on Europe with the centralized political system.
Today, Asia and Europe are pursuing the common goals of democracy and market economies.
Three fourths of the world's population lives in these two regions. Economically, they produce half the world's products. It is very important for Asia and Europe to deepen mutual understanding and cooperate further not only for the development and prosperity of the two regions but also for the peace and prosperity of the world. This is the goal and ideal of ASEM. I am convinced that close cooperation between Korea and the EU will help realize the ideal of ASEM and greatly contribute to efforts to bind Asia and Europe into one.
The EU is a very important and substantive cooperative partner of Korea. It is the No. 1 foreign investor in Korea and the third largest trade partner for Korea. The room for expansion of trade and investment between Korea and the EU is boundless. Korea is located in the middle of the huge markets of the United States, Japan, China and Russia. Its business and investment climate has been improved greatly through continuous economic reform. It also possesses the human resources and economic infrastructure suited to the knowledge-based economies of the 21st century. I hope that the EU and Korea will continue to expand their partnership in the huge markets of East Asia, including Japan and China. We will score "win-win success."
As you know, the Korea-EU Framework Agreement took effect last April. A systematic mechanism for further strengthening practical cooperation in such areas as investment and trade is now in place. On the parliamentary level, the Korean-EU Parliamentarians' Council was formed and annually discusses ways to develop Korea-EU relations. In the process of negotiating the Doha Development Agenda, Korea and the EU are also cooperating closely. And there will be stepped-up cooperation between the two.
As you know, the world is experiencing overall economic stagnation. We must now reduce our degree of dependence on the United States for exports and open other avenues. The promotion of domestic demand is one important task which requires flexible management of money and finance. We must also push economic and social policies to raise the purchasing power of low-income people. In addition, more active and larger scale trade and investment are desired between big markets like the EU and East Asia. Korea is opening its door wide for EU members. And we want to actively advance into the EU. Thus, I hope that both Korea and the EU will be able to overcome today's economic stagnation and jointly pave a path toward new prosperity.
I would like to take this opportunity now to tell you about the problem of the Korean Peninsula, in which you have taken great interest and given support. Peace on the Korean Peninsula is a concern not only of the 70 million Korean people but also of East Asia and the world. I have consistently pushed the Sunshine Policy to prevent war and settle peace on the Korean Peninsula. And at last, the historic inter-Korean summit was held in June last year.
The Sunshine Policy, in a word, is aimed at realizing coexistence and peaceful interaction between the South and North. Subsequently, in 10 or 20 years, when the people in the two parts have come to trust each other, we hope to accomplish peaceful unification.
Unification will come without fail. The Korean people lived in a unified country for 1,300 years from the seventh century; it is unimaginable for us to abandon unification forever just because we have lived separated for the past half century. As long as the Korean people ardently wish for unification, and as long as support from you and the world continues, I am firmly convinced that we will be able to unify our country in not too distant future.
The EU has been taking part in the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) and offering humanitarian and economic assistance to North Korea. It is also providing technological assistance and market economy training programs for the North. Many EU members are actively supporting our efforts for peace on the Korean Peninsula by establishing diplomatic relations with Pyongyang. In May this year when inter-Korean relations slowed temporarily, an EU delegation, including Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson and EU Commissioner Chris Patten, visited North Korea and directly helped us resume dialogue. The EU is an important supporter of peace on the Korean Peninsula and exchanges and cooperation between the South and North. The members of the European Parliament are genuine friends of the Korean people. I earnestly hope that your unsparing support will continue until the day when peace is settled and the bright sign of unification shines over the Korean Peninsula.
Right now, the world is still in the grip of anxiety and tension over terrorism. The terrorist attacks on the United States in September brought enormous shock and sorrow to all. Terrorism is undeclared, terrorism has no face and terrorism kills innocent civilians; it is the most cowardly and cruel act of provocation. It is a heinous and barbaric crime that cannot be justified under any circumstances. If we are unable to root out such terrorism, the international order will collapse. Nor will individuals be able to maintain their lifestyle. Terrorism must be rooted out now at any cost. I have high regard for the EU in quickly acting to cooperate with the international community's efforts to that end. Korea is also participating in the international coalition for the eradication of terrorism.
However, no religion or culture should be regarded with hostility. On the contrary, we must strengthen dialogue and cooperation among religions and cultures. We must eliminate the root cause of terrorism by eliminating the gap between the rich and poor and social inequalities that are getting wider every day. Realizing peace in the Middle East is the most important and urgent task for us.
People around the world are craving peace and security. Peace and security is the task of our time.
In this respect, I attach great significance to the World Cup finals that are going to be held in Korea and Japan next year. We would like to make the World Cup a great event to assure peace and security for all people of the world. The Korean people and I will do our utmost to make the 2002 World Cup the safest games ever. It will be a festival in which all people around the world will take part and enjoy peace and harmony.
There are only six more months to the opening of the World Cup. Of the 32 competing nations, 10 are EU members. I hope many of you will visit Korea. We will complete our preparations and wait for our guests. For those of you who will watch the games on TV, we are putting state-of-the-art facilities and are making meticulous efforts to be able to transmit them vividly. We will stage the 2002 World Cup successfully befitting the greatest festival for mankind. I hope you will take great interest in and support the event.
Rudyard Kipling who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907 said, "East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet." But if he were alive today, he would have said instead: "East is West, and West is East, and never the twain shall part." Source : Korea Herald 2001.12.13
- KOREA'S EXTERNAL AID LOWEST AMONG OECD COUNTRIES
Korea was the smallest provider of external aid among 39 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) last year, the Ministry of Finance and Economy said yesterday. In 2000, Korea provided $212 million in aid to foreign public development projects last year, or 0.047 percent of its gross national product (GNP), the ministry said.
Denmark had the highest ratio of 1.06 percent, followed by the Netherlands with 0.82 percent, Sweden with 0.81 percent, Norway with 0.8 percent and Luxembourg with 0.7 percent.
Belgium posted a ratio of 0.36 percent; Switzerland 0.34 percent; France 0.33 percent; Finland and Britain each 0.31 percent; Japan and Germany 0.27 percent each; and the United States 0.1 percent.
In terms of the foreign aid value, Japan topped the list with $13.06 billion, trailed by the United States with $9.58 billion, Germany with $5.03 billion, Britain with $4.45 billion and France with $4.22 billion, the ministry said.
"The ratio of Korea's external aid for public development projects to its GNP remains at a very low level given that Korea is the 13th largest economy in the world," a ministry official said.
Korea should expand external aid over the mid- and long term in order to raise its international status and strengthen international competitiveness through economic cooperation with developing countries, he said.
The government is considering increasing foreign aid for public development projects under its program dubbed "Vision 2011 Project." Source by: Koreay Herald (2001.12.03)
- BRIGITTE BARDOT PLEADS WITH KOREANS : STOP EATING DOGS!'
French actress-turned-activist Brigitte Bardot called on World Cup finals co-host South Korea to stop eating dogs.
"Korea needs to listen to what foreigners say about the eating of dog meat as it harms Korea's image," Bardot told South Korea's MBC radio network in a telephone interview. "Though Koreans do not eat their pet dogs, eating dog meat is part of Korean culture," she said in French, translated to Korean.
Seoul Vows to End Cruelty
South Korea, which with Japan will co-host the World Cup finals between May 31 and June 30, has already shrugged off concerns voiced by the soccer's world governing body FIFA about cruelty.
What has caused particular alarm abroad and among animal rights activists in South Korea is the illegal way some dogs are killed to make the meat more tender - by beating, burning or hanging.
The South Korean government has vowed to stamp out the practice.
Where FIFA focused on concerns about the beating and burning of dogs, Bardot called for an end to canine cuisine altogether.
Friends, or Food?
"Dogs are humans' friends, not animals for food, helping the blind walk, so eating dog meat is like eating humans," she said. She said she would distribute pictures of Korean dogs treated badly before butchery to teams participating in the 2002 World Cup finals.
"I don't mean to make the football teams boycott the international event. I just hope the Korean government introduces the law prohibiting Koreans from eating dog meat," she said.
When the radio program's anchorman asked about French slaughter of geese for foie gras, Bardot said she also opposed the cruel killing of the fowl. "I had protested against the cruel treatment of geese for food. But geese are generally seen as food. Meanwhile, dogs are close friends to humans so that people must not make them suffer."
Dogs are bred to be eaten in South Korea, notably in poshintang, literally "body preservation stew," which advocates say is good for your health and which is considered a delicacy by some. Source : Copyright 2001 Reuters.
- BRIGITTE BARDOT REÇOIT PRES DE 1000 MESSAGES D'INJURES ET MENACES
SEOUL - L'appel de Brigitte Bardot aux Sud-Coréens pour qu'ils arrêtent de manger du chien a mal passé. L'ancienne actrice française et militante de la défense des animaux a expliqué avoir reçu près de 1000 messages d'invectives et de menaces.
Le 28 novembre, elle avait expliqué dans un entretien téléphonique accordé à la radio sud-coréenne MBC que cette habitude de manger du chien en Corée du sud portait atteinte à l'image de marque de co-organisateur du Mondial 2002 de football.
Plusieurs sociétés françaises en Corée du Sud ont également reçu des appels téléphoniques menaçants à la suite des prises de position de l'ancienne actrice. Brigitte Bardot n'entend pas renoncer à sa campagne. "J'ai reçu le soutien du président de la FIFA et celui de l'équipe de France de football", argumente-t-elle. Source : SDA-ATS\/sy/note) - 5/12/2001
LES SUD-CORÉENS EN COLÈRE CONTRE BRIGITTE BARDOT
Des Sud-Coréens en veulent à la France ces derniers jours. Source de leur colère : Brigitte Bardot et d'autres ont dénoncé la tradition de manger du chien dans ce pays, co-organisateur de la prochaine Coupe du monde de football.
Des Sud-Coréens s'en prennent à la France ces derniers jours, après que Brigitte Bardot et d'autres ont dénoncé la tradition de manger du chien dans le pays du matin calme, co-organisateur de la prochaine Coupe du monde de football. Des sociétés et représentations françaises en Corée du Sud ont déclaré mercredi être assaillies de milliers de coups de téléphone d'interlocuteurs furieux envers l'ancienne comédienne devenue protectrice des animaux. Dans un communiqué publié mardi soir, Brigitte Bardot a dit avoir reçu près de mille messages électroniques d'insultes et de menaces émanant de Corée au cours des derniers jours.
Bardot, qui était parvenue à obtenir une lettre de soutien de la Fédération française de football, avait expliqué le 28 novembre, dans un entretien téléphonique accordé à la radio sud-coréenne MBC, que la consommation du meilleur ami de l'homme portait atteinte à l'image de marque du pays à la veille du Mondial-2002. De nombreux Coréens semblent choqués que Brigitte Bardot ait qualifié de "barbare", dans des interviews à des médias coréens, la manière dont sont abattus les chiens. Les animaux sont battus avant d'être tués pour faire monter leur taux d'adrénaline, ce qui est réputé attendrir leur chair.
Le sujet des restaurants de chien est l'occasion de campagnes passionnées à chaque fois que la Corée du Sud accueille un évènement international. Avant les jeux Olympiques de Séoul en 1988, le gouvernement avait forcé des restaurants de chien à fermer, ou de se faire discrets et servir d'autres plats, même si la loi n'interdit ni n'autorise spécifiquement la viande de chien. L'Etat refuse d'ailleurs d'interdire une tradition qui, dit-il, remonte à deux mille ans.
Le commerce du chien est notamment entretenu par l'idée, sans fondement scientifique, que le pénis de chien serait un aphrodisiaque. Un Coréen adulte sur dix, surtout des hommes, mangerait du chien au moins une fois par an.
Soutien de la FIFA
Le président de la FIFA, le Suisse Joseph Blatter, a réclamé le mois dernier que des actions soient prises contre l'abattage des chiens, arguant de milliers messages demandant l'annulation des compétitions en Corée du Sud. Mais c'est la France qui se trouve au centre des protestations sud-coréennes. Brigitte Bardot, qui a reçu aussi le soutien du président de la FIFA, fait savoir qu'elle ne renoncera pas à sa campagne. "J'aurais préféré recevoir le soutien des Coréens, qui, eux seuls, peuvent abolir cette habitude barbare qui écoeure le monde", ajoute-t-elle. Source : TF1.fr 6/12/2001
- WORLD CUP ORGANIZER TO TELL BARDOT ABOUT SOUTH KOREANS' LOVE FOR ANIMALS
A top South Korean soccer official plans to send a video to French actress Brigitte Bardot, hoping to convince her and vocal animal activists that South Koreans care for animals despite their dog-eating culture.
Bardot, a vocal critic of dog-eating, renewed her criticism ahead of next year's World Cup finals, which South Korea will co-host with Japan. Her comments angered many Koreans, who saw them as a slight to their food culture.
In an interview published Tuesday in Seoul's Daily Sports newspaper, Chung Mong-joon, co-chairman of the Korea World Cup Organizing Committee, said he planned to send Bardot a video of "Take Care of My Cat," a recent local movie that depicts five young women taking turns looking after a stray kitten. "I plan to see the film and send it to Bardot, as the film touches on the subject of loving animals," Chung said.
Early this month, Bardot angered Koreans by hanging up the phone during an interview with South Korea's MBC radio, when the Korean anchor asked her whether she was aware that some Westerners, including French, Americans and Germans, have fondly described the experience of eating dog meat during visits to South Korea.
Bardot said she couldn't continue an interview with "liars."
About 3 million of South Korea's 47 million people are believed to eat dog meat as a delicacy. Bardot calls the custom savage.
Chung said Korea has a long tradition of loving animals, reflected in Buddhism, which bans killing even the smallest insects, and is one of the largest religions in South Korea.
Chung also said that Koreans designated a breed of dogs, called "Jindo dogs," as a national treasure. The dogs are named after a South Korean island where many people raise the canines.
South Koreans slaughter only dogs raised for eating, not pet dogs. (AP)
Concerned about its international image, the South Korean government banned dog meat sales during the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. After the Olympics, however, the ban stopped being enforced.
Dog meat is also eaten in some other Asian countries, including China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Laos. (AP) Source : Korea Herald 2001.12.20
- KIM'S UK TRIP RINGING REGISTERS FOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT DEALS
LONDON - Kim Dae-jung, on a 10-day European trip, will confer with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in a summit on Tuesday afternoon (Korean time). The president will discuss mutual cooperation between the two countries, and expansion in trade and investment. Agreements are expected on electronic commerce, the establishment of an IT center, the opening of an IT symposium, and more.
On Monday, President Kim participated in a social gathering with the Confederation of British Industries. Early Tuesday morning President Kim met Philip Watts, Chairman of the Committee of Managing Directors of the Royal Dutch/Shell Group of companies, and asked Shell to further expand its Korean investments.
In an investment road show hosted by the Ministry of Commerce on Monday night, a contract worth $1.7 billion was signed. British government officials and about 150 businessmen participated. TESCO has agreed to establish 12 new Korean offices, the industrial gas manufacturing company has agreed to enlarge its Korean facilities, and so forth. Two and a half billion dollars worth of infrastructure projects in major Korean cities were also discussed.
Chang Che-sik, Minister of Commerce, held a conference with Britain's Trade Minister to discuss cooperation in electronic commerce-related fields and various joint investments. Both ministers finally agreed upon a memorandum of understanding on electronic commerce.
President Kim will meet London's mayor, Michael Oliver, on Tuesday. Source by: Digital JoongAng (2001.12.04)
KIM'S EUROPEAN TRIP BRINGS $10.4 BILLION IN BUSINESS
BUDAPEST - President Kim Dae-jung's visit to Britain, Norway and Hungary has led to about $10.4 billion worth of new investments, contracts and potential deals, Kim's aides said here Monday.
Lee Ki-ho, Kim's top economic adviser, said South Korean businessmen and local government chiefs conducted negotiations with their foreign counterparts during the presidential trip to the three countries last week.
Lee said that the $10.4 billion includes $4.18 in new investments, $5.26 billion in construction and factory contracts in third countries through joint bidding and $0.97 billion in export orders mainly on products related to information technology.
The senior presidential secretary said that by nation, the figure breaks down to $9.05 billion from Britain, $0.96 billion from Norway and $0.4 billion from Hungary.
The South Korean leader visited the three European countries to promote trade and strengthen economic ties.
"This visit will open a new era of full-fledged cooperative relations between South Korea and Europe," Kim said in a luncheon meeting Sunday with the Korean correspondents traveling with him.
"We will receive European assistance when entering markets in the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans, and we will help Europe make way into Asia," he said.
The President also urged South Korean companies, which he said have relied too heavily on the U.S. economy, to diversify their export markets and focus on Europe.
Kim plans to call for additional European Union (EU) investments in South Korea when he speaks before its parliament in Strasbourg, France today, his aides said.
The aides said the President would stress that South Korea is growing as a logistics and economic hub in East Asia and a key production base for the vast Chinese market.
As South Korea's second largest market, the 15-member EU is the largest investor in the nation.
Kim flew to Strasbourg on Monday to speak before the European Parliament after winding up his state visit to Hungary. Strasbourg, a border town between France and Germany, is Kim's last stop in his 11-day European tour.
Kim will become the first Asian head of state to speak before the European Parliament.
Presidential officials said Kim would meet European Parliamentary leaders and European Commission President Romano Prodi to discuss ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation and the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
Before leaving for Strasbourg, the South Korean President visited Budapest City Hall and met Hungarian parliamentary speaker and business leaders.
Speaking before the economic leaders, Kim emphasized the importance for South Korea and Hungary, which established diplomatic relations in 1989, to boost trade and economic cooperation.
"The geographical locations of our countries enable us to serve as beachheads for each other for advancement into the markets of Central Europe and Northeast Asia," Kim said. Hungary is located in the center of Europe, while Korea is situated in the middle of the economic theater comprising the United States, China, Russia and Japan. Source by: Korea Herald (2001.12.11)
- JEUX VIDEO : LES FRANÇAIS SE SONT REVELES DE BONS JOUEURS LORS DES CYBERJEUX MONDIAUX DE SEOUL
Séoul - RICHARD WERLY
"En Corée, les jeux sur l'Internet sont si populaires qu'ils sont déjà des divertissements de masse." Chris Yoon, organisateur des Cyberjeux mondiaux à Séoul
On peut être un pro du jeu vidéo et savoir apprécier les choses de la vie. Sitôt qualifié pour les demi-finales de Starcraft, l'épreuve reine des Cyberjeux mondiaux, les World Cyber Games, qui se sont achevés dimanche à Séoul en Corée du Sud, Bertrand Grospellier, alias Elky, se remettait à "chouffer" ("guetter", dans l'argot militaire) les jolies Coréennes du public. "C'est dingue. Il y a tout ici: les meilleurs joueurs mondiaux, des minettes superbes et du fric à gagner. Ça ressemble au paradis, non?" rigole ce Nancéien de 20 ans aux cheveux rouges. Ce divertissement ne l'empêchera pas d'accéder à la finale et d'empocher 10 000 dollars (11 300 euros). Matchs retransmis en direct sur la chaîne câblée GemBC, interviews par les médias locaux après chaque partie, mignonnes fans pressées d'obtenir un autographe... Les vedettes des World Cyber Games (1) ont pu goûter cette notoriété et cette respectabilité qui continuent de faire défaut en France et dans une bonne partie de l'Europe: "La Corée casse l'image qui, chez nous, colle à la peau des gamers: celle de mecs qui vivent dans leur cave et restent scotchés à leur ordinateur en bouffant des pizzas", se réjouit Bertrand Parriot, Bordelais de 19 ans et révélation du tournoi de Quake III. Il tiendra, lui, jusqu'aux demi-finales.
Accès rapide. La Corée du Sud n'est pas le paradis des jeux en ligne sans raison. C'est l'un des premiers pays de la planète en matière d'accès rapide à l'Internet. "En Corée, les jeux en ligne sur l'Internet sont si populaires qu'ils sont déjà des divertissements de masse. A la télévision, les matchs de Starcraft [de loin le jeu le plus populaire] font des audiences supérieures à celles de certaines émissions d'information", explique Chris Yoon, qui a participé à l'organisation de ces World Cyber Games financés par ICM, une filiale du géant électronique Samsung.
Durant cinq jours, 400 joueurs de trente-sept pays différents ont pris leurs quartiers au troisième étage du Coex, le grand centre de congrès de Séoul. La compétition s'est achevée par l'attribution de 300 000 dollars (338 868 euros) de récompenses aux finalistes des six jeux en lice: Starcraft, Quake III Arena, Unreal Tournament, Age of Empire II, Counterstrike et Fifa 2001. La première édition de ces Cyberjeux mondiaux avait eu lieu en octobre 2000 à proximité de Séoul. Mais l'épreuve, cette fois-ci, a vu beaucoup plus grand: des tournois qualificatifs ont été organisés dans tous les pays. Ce fut le cas en France avec les éliminatoires Lan-Arena (2) organisés les 26 et 27 octobre à Paris, au Théâtre de l'Empire.
Plusieurs des meilleurs joueurs des World Cyber Games rêvent d'intégrer le circuit pro coréen. Le pays du matin calme a depuis deux ans une ligue professionnelle de jeux vidéo où évoluent à la fois des équipes sponsorisées par les grandes entreprises locales (Samsung, Korea Telecom...) ou des champions solitaires comme le Canadien Guillaume Patry, 19 ans, lauréat de plus de dix tournois pro l'an dernier. Joueur émérite de Starcraft, Patry a son propre agent et son émission sur la chaîne GemBC. Il soigne son look comme un jeune premier mais reste lucide: "Les jeux vidéo sont aussi un phénomène de mode. Il manque encore des structures pour en faire un vrai sport. Aujourd'hui, c'est un peu la jungle." David Yang, porte-parole d'ICM, la filiale organisatrice des jeux, n'a pas cette retenue: "Nous sentons que les choses décollent. La Corée du Sud est clairement en train de s'imposer comme la référence en matière de jeux en ligne pour toute une génération de joueurs", estime-t-il.
Virage. L'industrie sud-coréenne des nouvelles technologies a toujours mal vécu la domination du voisin japonais sur le marché des jeux consoles, dominé par Sony, Nintendo ou Sega. Elle ne veut donc pas rater ce virage des jeux en réseau qui comptent dans la péninsule plus de sept millions d'amateurs, habitués à fréquenter les 25 000 salles de jeux reliées à l'Internet ou "PC bang". Sous l'impulsion de Samsung, l'Etat coréen a même mis la main au portefeuille en créant une agence spécialisée dans la promotion des start-up du secteur. Son nom, bien éloigné de celui d'une administration, est Game Infinity: "une infinité de jeux"....(1) www.worldcybergames.org (2) www.lan-arena.com Source : Libération : 11/12/2001
- S'ADAPTER OU MOURIR : ENTRÉE DE LA CHINE DANS L'OMC
Les entreprises coréennes survivront-elles à l'entrée de la Chine à l'Organisation mondiale du commerce ? Voici quelques règles de survie à l'usage de la Corée du Sud.
Les ministres du Commerce extérieur des pays membres de l'Organisation mondiale du commerce (OMC) ont entériné la demande d'adhésion de la Chine le 10 novembre dernier, au terme de 15 ans de négociations. L'admission du pays à l'OMC devrait permettre d'accélérer les efforts déployés actuellement par le gouvernement chinois en direction des réformes et de l'ouverture des marchés. Si elles sont couronnées de succès, les initiatives prises dans ce domaine devraient entraîner une pénétration sensiblement plus importante des technologies de pointe et des capitaux dans le pays, consolidant ainsi sa croissance économique. L'adhésion à l'OMC sera en outre profitable à la Chine dans d'autres domaines, dans la mesure où elle pourra affermir sa position sur la scène économique et politique mondiale, et par là même s'affirmer comme un acteur essentiel dans la définition d'une alternative durable à l'ordre international dominé par les Etats-Unis. Ainsi, il est probable que dans les années à venir, la Chine sera à même d'assumer un rôle de tout premier plan dans le cadre de la mise en place d'un nouvel ordre économique et politique international, loin de se limiter à celui de centre mondial de production. En réponse à ces récents développements, les entreprises coréennes font preuve d'un optimisme croissant devant l'imminence d'une ouverture plus importante de l'immense marché chinois, bien qu'elles demeurent néanmoins préoccupées par la perspective de devoir s'engager dans une plus forte concurrence avec les exportateurs chinois à l'avenir.
Un marché chinois plus ouvert aux importations et aux implantations d'entreprises étrangères :
Suite à son adhésion à l'OMC, la Chine devra procéder à la réduction de ses tarifs douaniers et à la suppression de ses barrières non tarifaires. Des progrès significatifs ont d'ores et déjà été accomplis dans ce domaine, le niveau des tarifs douaniers étant passé progressivement de 40 % ou plus au début des années 1990 à une moyenne de 15,3 % cette année. En outre, on prévoit que le taux moyen des tarifs douaniers frappant les produits manufacturés sera abaissé à 9,4 % d'ici à l'an 2005, conformément au programme de libéralisation des marchés locaux. Plus particulièrement, les tarifs affectant les semi-conducteurs, les ordinateurs et équipements informatiques, les produits appartenant aux secteurs des télécommunications et autres technologies de pointe, qui se situent à un taux moyen de 13,3 % à l'heure actuelle, seront complètement abolis d'ici à 2005. Quant aux barrières non tarifaires, telles que les réglementations relatives aux importations et les subventions accordées à certains secteurs industriels, elles seront entièrement supprimées d'ici à 2005. L'abaissement de ces barrières commerciales devrait permettre à la Chine d'enregistrer une nette augmentation de ses importations, à hauteur de 12 à 15 milliards de dollars. De ce fait, on prévoit que la valeur des échanges commerciaux réalisés par la Chine dépassera la barre des 700 milliards de dollars en 2005. En contrepartie de son admission à l'OMC, il lui sera par ailleurs exigé de procéder à une libéralisation beaucoup plus poussée de ses différents marchés. Par conséquent, il est probable que les implantations d'entreprises étrangères s'accroîtront rapidement, notamment dans les secteurs des technologies de pointe, des services et de la finance.
La Corée doit se préparer à une compétitivité accrue des produits chinois
Suite à cette percée sensiblement plus importante des entreprises étrangères, le marché chinois enregistrera une amélioration notable de sa compétitivité, à mesure que les infrastructures économiques du pays se moderniseront et deviendront elles-mêmes plus compétitives. En d'autres termes, les entreprises chinoises, qui pour l'heure ne satisfont pas aux normes internationales, devront renforcer leur compétitivité si elles veulent éviter la faillite. Cependant, on ne peut douter que ces dures réalités contribueront à long terme à affermir les fondamentaux et la compétitivité globale de l'économie chinoise. En effet, si l'on en croit les prévisions établies par l'Académie chinoise des sciences sociales (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences), un institut de recherche géré par l'Etat, le taux de croissance annuel du PIB chinois devrait augmenter de 0,5 à 0,6 point compte tenu de l'amélioration de la compétitivité. Toutefois, le revers de la médaille serait, à court terme, l'apparition possible de troubles économiques et sociaux, en raison de l'accroissement probable des dépôts de bilan, et par conséquent de la progression du chômage. On peut affirmer avec une quasi-certitude que ces futures mutations de l'économie chinoise auront des retombées mitigées sur l'économie coréenne. Si l'on en retient l'un des effets les plus positifs, on peut s'attendre à ce que l'admission de la Chine à l'OMC fournisse de nouvelles opportunités commerciales à de nombreuses sociétés coréennes, à la faveur d'une libéralisation accrue des échanges et d'un cadre beaucoup plus propice aux investissements en Chine. En revanche, impact négatif majeur, elles devront s'engager dans une concurrence beaucoup plus âpre avec les exportateurs chinois, non seulement sur les marchés internationaux, mais peut-être même sur les marchés coréens. Il est à craindre également que des entreprises étrangères ne décident de délocaliser leurs équipements de production sur le territoire chinois, à mesure que l'environnement commercial local devient plus favorable. Dans ces conditions, les entreprises coréennes devront faire face à une concurrence plus sévère sur le marché chinois, en dépit de l'élargissement de ce dernier, compte tenu de la présence de sociétés globales capables d'y produire des produits de meilleure qualité. Cela signifie en outre que, dans la mesure où une part croissante des investissements étrangers effectués en Asie est réalisée en Chine, la Corée en obtiendra une part d'autant plus réduite, ce qui la placerait dans une situation des plus défavorables. De plus, à cause du renforcement de la compétitivité des produits chinois, de nombreux produits fabriqués en Corée risquent fort de se voir éliminer des principaux marchés d'exportation, notamment celui des Etats-Unis. Enfin, le secteur agricole coréen sera sans doute sévèrement touché sur le marché local par la concurrence des produits agricoles importés de Chine, étant donné que le gouvernement coréen ne sera plus en mesure d'intervenir pour réduire le volume de ces importations à bas prix, la Chine faisant désormais partie des Etats membres de l'OMC.
La collaboration étroite avec la Chine est la clé de la réussite
Si l'on prend tous ces facteurs en considération, on arrive à la conclusion que, si l'adhésion de la Chine sera certainement profitable à l'économie coréenne à court terme, en ce sens qu'elle favorisera une progression des exportations et une amélioration des perspectives commerciales ; à long terme, les entreprises locales auront à faire face à l'immense menace que représentent leurs concurrents chinois sur les marchés mondiaux. En conséquence, il est à craindre que de nombreuses entreprises en difficulté, et peut-être même certains secteurs industriels peu solides, ne survivent pas, quels que soient les efforts qu'ils auront déployés. Que suggérer aux entreprises coréennes ? L'admission de la Chine à l'OMC constitue, à certains égards, une chance unique pour l'économie nationale. Mais cet événement comporte aussi des risques énormes, si les entreprises coréennes ne prennent pas une série de mesures appropriées afin de s'adapter à la nouvelle donne. Par conséquent, l'économie coréenne se trouve actuellement dans une phase cruciale de son développement, dans la mesure où elle n'a désormais nulle autre alternative, maintenant que la Chine est membre à part entière de l'OMC, que de rehausser son niveau de compétitivité, si elle ne veut pas sombrer. L'issue dépendra de la réaction des entreprises coréennes. La plus importante des options qu'elle pourrait prendre consisterait peut-être à mettre au point des produits de première qualité et de haut niveau technologique, afin de leur permettre de faire face à la concurrence de la main d'©"uvre à bas prix dont disposent les producteurs chinois. Dans le même temps, il est essentiel que les entreprises coréennes élaborent une nouvelle stratégie pour le marché chinois, qui consisterait à maintenir de solides relations d'affaires avec les sociétés chinoises. La tactique dite de "cohabitation avec l'ennemi potentiel" peut jouer en faveur des firmes locales si elle est conçue de manière appropriée. Par exemple, elles pourraient fabriquer des produits à faible valeur ajoutée en Chine à l'intention du marché coréen, et inversement, exporter vers la Chine des produits à haute valeur ajoutée fabriqués en Corée. En conclusion, on peut dire qu'une ère nouvelle s'ouvre pour les entreprises locales, avec l'adhésion de la Chine à l'OMC. C'est maintenant ou jamais qu'elles doivent en mesurer les bénéfices et les dangers et s'y préparer en conséquence, avant que la lumière éclatante du jour n'illumine les vainqueurs et n'aveugle les perdants.Yoo Jin-seok chercheur au Samsung Economic Research Institute . Source : Le Courrier de la Corée 2001.12.04
- FREE TRADE SEEN TO BENEFIT KOREA, CHINA, JAPAN
Economic benefits will be greater if Korea, China and Japan conclude a trilateral free trade agreement (FTA) rather than if they make bilateral FTAs separately, a report by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) of Japan showed yesterday.
A trilateral free trade pact among Korea, China, and Japan would raise Korea's real GDP by 3.2 percent, China's 1.3 percent, and Japan's 0.2 percent.
Also, a three-way FTA would bring economic gains worth $12.7 billion to Korea, $820 million to China, and $12.3 billion to Japan, the report said.
The report will be presented to a forum to be held today at Marriott Hotel in Seoul where researchers from the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP), Development Research Center of China (DRC), and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) of Japan will discuss ways to enhance trade relations among the three countries.
The ESRI is an institute under the Cabinet Office of the Japanese government.
The report compared the economic benefits that would accrue to each of the three countries if they pursue a trilateral FTA or separate bilateral FTAs.
In the case of an FTA between Korea and Japan, it would raise Korea's real GDP by 1.1 percent and bring to it economic benefits worth $3.7 billion.
On the other hand, the bilateral tie-up would only create economic value worth of $2.2 billion for Japan, without making any contribution to its GDP growth. It would reduce China's economic benefits by $300 million, the report said.
If China and Japan form a free trade pact, it will be obviously beneficial to the two countries. Yet Korea would have to suffer setbacks in both economic growth and economic benefits due to the pact.
Meanwhile, forming an FTA among the members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) plus 3 - Korea, Japan, China - would provide more economic gains to the concerned parties, the report said.
Under the scenario, Korea's real GDP will grow by 3.7 percent, China by 1.5 percent, and Japan by 0.3 percent. The ASEAN economic zone would benefit most - an 8.6 percent growth in real GDP.
Meanwhile, KIEP advised in its report that Korea pursue bilateral ties with China and Japan, respectively, while seeking a trilateral FTA with both of the countries, given that a three-way trade pact would take time to form.
KIEP proposed five sectors - logistics, energy, environment, culture, and tourism - where the three countries can promote cooperation. It also called for establishment of dialogue channels at the private, government and academic levels.
In a separate report, China's DRC insisted that possible trade disputes among the three countries should be resolved through cooperation, rather than Western-stylized dispute settlement procedures. Sources by: Korea Herald (2001.12.20)
- LA CORÉE DU SUD, FUTUR CARREFOUR ÉCONOMIQUE ?
Le Forum financier préconise une réorientation des réformes afin que la Corée s'impose dans la région Asie
De l'avis d'un des plus prestigieux économistes du pays, Kim Ki-hwan, fondateur du Korea Financial Forum (KFF), la Corée du Sud doit aujourd'hui cesser de se cantonner à des réformes superficielles et poursuivre des objectifs plus ambitieux, dont celui d'acquérir une autre stature sur la scène économique mondiale. "J'ai toujours l'impression que les Coréens ne font qu'apporter des améliorations à ce qui existe, alors qu'ils devraient viser plus haut, c'est-à-dire créer. Plus concrètement, je suis persuadé que le pays s'apprête à devenir un grand carrefour financier d'envergure régionale", estimait Kim Ki-hwan, conseiller international de la société Golden Sachs et président du Forum financier coréen (KFF, Korean Financial Forum) de création récente, lors de l'entretien qu'il a accordé au quotidien The Korea Herald. Composé de 31 membres, cet organisme a précisément pour vocation de favoriser la constitution d'un tel centre d'affaires en supprimant les obstacles qui peuvent s'y opposer et en incitant la nation a engager les nécessaires réformes de son système politique et économique. Toujours selon M. Kim, la réalisation de ces objectifs exige toutefois d'effectuer toute une série de changements, hormis les incontournables réformes des quatre grands secteurs public, financier, des entreprises et du monde du travail. La fiscalité appelle notamment des réaménagements. "Il importe notamment que nous cessions d'appliquer une forte progressivité à l'impôt sur le revenu, car celle-ci, outre qu'elle ne se justifie guère du point de vue de l'équité, pas plus que de l'efficacité, nécessite la mise en place d'une législation complexe, laquelle engendre à son tour la corruption. Quant à l'impôt sur les sociétés, il constitue une forme de double imposition qu'il nous appartient de supprimer si nous souhaitons attirer les investisseurs étrangers", explique M. Kim.
"Des visas pour les travailleurs qualifiés", M. Kim
Un grand besoin de réforme se fait également sentir dans le domaine de l'immigration. "Celle-ci est actuellement en grande partie le fait de travailleurs non qualifiés, ce qui a pour effet le maintien d'industries grosses consommatrices de main-d'oeuvre et fortement susceptibles de diminuer la compétitivité nationale. Si la Corée souhaite surpasser la Chine, mieux vaudrait que cela ne soit pas dans ce domaine. Bref, nous avons besoin de personnes disposant d'une bonne formation et nous devrions suivre l'exemple des Etats-Unis et de Singapour, qui accordent en priorité leurs visas permanents aux travailleurs les plus qualifiés", affirme-t-il. Par ailleurs, la réforme du système éducatif coréen fait partie pour M. Kim des mesures dont l'adoption garantirait à terme la constitution d'une main-d'oeuvre compétitive en Corée. Ce système étant actuellement trop fermé, il conviendrait d'y introduire une dose de concurrence en invitant des universités étrangères à y mener leurs activités, propose-t-il. "Singapour s'efforce ainsi d'attirer cette présence étrangère par des mesures d'incitation et y est d'ores et déjà parvenue avec l'Université de Chicago et les laboratoires médicaux du Johns Hopkins College", précise-t-il. Parmi les autres voies de réforme évoquées par M. Kim figure celle de l'organisation du travail, qui "permettrait d'assurer une meilleure protection des investissements étrangers", ainsi qu'une plus grande propreté de l'environnement, partant du principe que "Les gens brillants ne veulent pas d'un environnement de travail désagréable". "Dans les années 70 et 80, les Coréens étaient extrêmement patriotes et pleins d'ardeur au travail, mais il semble qu'aujourd'hui une telle vision leur fasse défaut. Raison de plus pour nous convaincre de notre capacité à devenir un grand carrefour financier", affirme-t-il. C'est au printemps 1997 qu'est venue à M. Kim, alors membre de la Commission présidentielle de réforme financière, l'idée de ce grand centre d'affaires.
Le Forum financier coréen, lieu d'échanges entre économistes
Comprenant que de simples réformettes ne mèneraient pas le pays bien loin, il évoqua ce problème avec ses proches collaborateurs, parmi lesquels figuraient James Rooney et Kang Kyoung-shik, ministre des Finances à l'époque de la crise financière asiatique, puis décida en accord avec eux de créer un organisme privé qui en serait chargé. Il effectua ensuite une sélection de trente économistes "qui comptaient, qui avaient du poids dans le pays", ces derniers répondant tous positivement à son appel. "Sous une direction efficace, un tel centre d'affaires peut être rapidement mis en place, dans cinq à dix ans peut-être", prévoit M. Kim. Entre-temps, la présence de cinq étrangers parmi ses membres, en la personne de Jeffrey Jones et Dominic Barton, apporte à ce forum une vision extérieure tout en évitant une composition coréano-coréenne, indique M. Kim. L'ensemble de ses membres étant bilingues, les réunions et séminaires se dérouleront en langue anglaise. Titulaire d'un doctorat de sciences économiques de l'Université de Berkeley, en Californie, M. Kim a occupé dans les années 80 le poste de vice-ministre du Commerce et de l'Industrie. Particulièrement bien remplie, sa carrière économique comporte un passage chez Kim & Chang, où il a été premier conseiller de 1992 à 1999, ainsi qu'au département de sciences économiques de Berkeley, où il fut professeur associé en 1991 et 1992.
Kim Mi-hui Source : Le Courreir de la Corée 2001.11.20
- IMF FORECASTS KOREAN ECONOMY TO GROW BY 3.2 PERCENT IN 2002
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted on Tuesday that the Korean economy will grow by 3.2 percent in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) next year.
Releasing the World Economic Outlook report, the IMF made a downward revision from its October prediction of 4.5 percent due a prolonged slowdown in exports and weak domestic demand.
It also projected this year's growth rate for Korea at 2.6 percent, slightly revising up its earlier figure of 2.5 percent.
The IMF forecast the nation will see a 2 percent rise in consumer prices, sharply down from this year's preliminary figure of 4.3 percent.
The Washington-based lending agency said Korea's unemployment rate is expected to decline to 3.5 percent from this year's 3.8 percent.
The IMF said growth projections across Asia have been revised down from its October figures, reflecting the greater-than-expected slowing in external demand and the weakness in domestic activity.
It added the sharpest reductions were in the outlook for the newly-industrialized economies, including Hong Kong and Singapore which are set to show GDP growth of 1 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively, in 2002.
However, the IMF said that ``firmer growth of 3.2 percent is projected for Korea.''
``The key uncertainty in the outlook for much of Asia is the strength of export demand _ especially the pace of recovery in technology sectors _ but there are also concerns about a broader-based deterioration in domestic activity and confidence,'' the IMF said.
It pointed out Asia is relatively well placed to withstand external shocks with still large current account surpluses and foreign reserves.
Lower world interest rates and falling oil prices are also positive factors for Asian countries.
The IMF said there is room for expansionary fiscal policy and eased monetary measures to stimulate the economy in such countries as Korea, Singapore and Taiwan
It slashed the 2002 world growth projection to 2.4 percent from its October figures of 3.5 percent. It also cut this year's figure from 2.6 percent to 2.4 percent.
The U.S. economy is predicted to grow by 0.7 percent, down from this year's 1 percent, while Japan will suffer from a one-percent decline following a 0.4-percent fall in 2001.
Germany and France is forecast to record a GDP growth of 0.7 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively in 2002.
China will enjoy higher growth rate of 6.8 percent following this year's 7.3 percent as it is expected to continue its economic boom.
The IMF said the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. exacerbated an already very difficult situation in the global economy.
``At present, the outlook is subject to greater uncertainty, evident for example in the sharp increase in dispersion in private sector forecast,'' it said.
It added it remains very difficult to judge how quickly confidence will rebound and how financial conditions will develop, with much continuing to depend on non-economic factors, including the progress in the war against terrorism.
However, the IMF said there are a number of factors that will help support recovery during 2002.
It cited as positive factors eased monetary policy around the world, lower oil prices, the completion of ongoing inventory corrections and the strengthening of economic fundamentals in many countries, especially in Asia. Source by: Korea Times (2001.12.19)
CROISSANCE PRÉVISIONNELLE : 3,7 % EN 2002
Alors que devrait s'amorcer une certaine reprise de l'économie mondiale au cours du prochain exercice, la Corée elle-même devrait afficher un taux de croissance économique de 3,7 %, un important regain d'activité survenant notamment dans ses secteurs de l'automobile, des machines-outils et des télécommunications. Telles sont en substance les prévisions de l'Institut coréen pour l'économie industrielle et le commerce (KIET, Korean Institute for Industrial Economics & Trade). Cet organisme précise, dans une étude intitulée "Economic Prospects for 2002", que le produit intérieur brut coréen (PIB), qui devrait être de l'ordre de 2,5 % au cours des six premiers mois de l'année, pourrait monter en flèche au cours du second semestre pour atteindre le chiffre de 4,8 %, ce qui porterait sa valeur annuelle moyenne à 3,7 %. Par comparaison, la Corée devrait réaliser un PIB de 2,2 % durant l'exercice en cours.
En ce qui concerne les échanges commerciaux coréens, toujours selon le KIET, une inversion de tendance devrait se produire dans le domaine des exportations, lesquelles auront enregistré une chute de 10,9 % en 2001 en raison d'un marasme économique persistant et de la baisse des prix des semi-conducteurs. L'Institut prévoit ainsi une hausse de 6 % des ventes coréennes à l'étranger, une progression des importations étant également susceptible d'intervenir en raison de la reprise économique et l'excédent commercial effectivement dégagé l'année prochaine (7,4 milliards de dollars) étant inférieur au chiffre atteint en 2001 (9,7 milliards de dollars). Enfin, l'année 2002 devrait être marquée par une diminution de l'indice des prix à la consommation, lequel pourrait passer du niveau actuel de 4,1 % à 3,5 % suite à la stabilisation du taux de change et des cours des matières premières. Source : Le Courrier de la Corée 2001.12.04
KOREAN ECONOMY TO GROW BY 3.7% IN 2002: KIET
As the global economy recovers somewhat next year, Korea will see economic growth of about 3.7 percent, with a particularly strong comeback in the automobile, machinery and telecommunication equipment sectors, the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics & Trade (KIET) said yesterday.
In a study titled, "Economic Prospects for 2002," KIET specified that gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the first half will be about 2.5 percent, which will jump to 4.8 percent in the second half to average 3.7 percent for the year.
This year's GDP is expected to reach 2.2 percent.
"But the figure is below the country's potential for growth, which is about 5-6 percent, and we need an economic maintenance plan," the report suggested.
Also, consumption will begin to rise in the second quarter of next year due to recovery in consumer sentiment and as the domestic market policies for boosting the economy take affect, the study said. It predicted that total expenditure will rise by 2.5 percent and public spending by 2.8 percent.
Investments, on the other hand, will increase by a meager 0.4 percent in the first half, but balloon to 7.1 percent in the second half to total 3.9 percent for the year, leading Korea away from the negative growth it will see this year, it said.
In trade, there will be a turnaround in exports, which will record a 10.9 percent drop this year due to the ongoing economic slump and plunging semiconductor prices, KIET said. According to the institute, exports will grow by 6 percent next year, but with economic recovery, imports will rise also and the actual trade surplus next year ($7.4 billion) will be lower than this year's ($9.7 billion).
Next year's consumer price was also estimated to fall from this year's 4.1 percent to 3.5 percent thanks to stabilization of foreign exchange and raw material costs.
Meanwhile, the institute forecasts that there will be a remarkable boom in a few specific sectors, including telecommunications equipment, household appliances, automobiles and general machinery, next year while business in the semiconductor and computer sectors will remain slow.
In the case of automobiles, exports are expected to improve by 5.7 percent next year as local products' quality improves, while shipbuilding exports grow by over 3 percent with steady orders.
For other major products, the study predicts that machinery will see growth of 10 percent, telecommunication equipment double-digit growth and household appliances like digital televisions 5.9 percent growth.
By contrast, steel exports will drop by 4.7 percent with increasing trade barriers in major markets, the institute said. Source by: Korea Herald (2001.11.22)
L'ECONOMIE COREENNE RESISTE MIEUX QUE CELLE DE SES CONCURRENTS ASIATIQUES
Si cet article vous intéresse veuillez nous contacter - Source : Le MOCI 29/11/2001
LA COREE DU SUD RESISTE POUR L'INSTANT A LA CRISE ECONOMIQUE
Si cet article vous intéresse veuillez nous contacter - Source : Les Echos 23/11/2001
KEY INDUSTRIES TO STAGE RECOVERY IN 2002
Korea's major industries, including electronics, semiconductors and general machinery, are projected to stage a gradual recovery in 2002, a report forecast yesterday, citing worldwide expectations for an information technology rebound among the favorable factors.
The Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry said in its 2002 forecast that windfalls from the World Cup finals and China's entry into the World Trade Organization, as well as the IT improvements will contribute to lifting most key industries into an upward curve.
In the domestic market, electronics goods are expected to post the strongest sales growth of 8.1 percent, benefiting from the latest cuts in special consumption taxes, said the KCCI report. General machinery will also perform strongly at home with an estimated expansion of 7.7 percent, followed by autos (4.1 percent), petrochemicals (3 percent) and steel (2 percent). By contrast, textile sales will be hit by sluggish demand, contracting 1.1 percent.
On the export front, a recovery in the global IT sector and China's WTO entry will help boost shipments of semiconductors, electronics and general machinery by 13.3 percent, 12.8 percent and 7.5 percent, respectively. Textiles, petrochemicals and automobiles will also regain strength abroad, growing 3.9 percent, 3.8 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.
But the continued weakness in international steel prices will eat into the nation's overseas shipments by 5.1 percent, while shipbuilding orders will remain flat next year.
In terms of overall production, electronics, semiconductors, general machinery, petrochemicals and automobiles will register growth ranging from 3.6 percent to 13.6 percent, the KCCI report said.
By industry, the nation's auto exports and output will fall 5.8 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively, this year, despite a 2.1 percent expansion in local sales. Yet all of the three key indicators will grow by 3 to 4 percent next year, thanks to tax cuts, improved quality and introduction of new models. In the electronics sector, all of the three barometers will swing from the negative territory this year to the positive in 2002, posting growth of up to 13.6 percent.
Local semiconductor manufacturers, which suffered falls of more than 40 percent in production and exports this year, may show double-digit growth in the 11-13 percent range in 2002, said the KCCI.
General machinery shipments will also grow 7.7 percent at home and 7.5 percent abroad, with overall production rising 6.6 percent.
Textile exports may rise 3.9 percent next year, rebounding from a contraction of 12.7 percent this year. Growth in construction orders is to rise from an estimated 0.1 percent this year to 3.5 percent in 2002.
Despite the upbeat forecasts, domestic business downturn is projected to continue into the first quarter of next year, making it virtually impossible to forecast when the Korean economy will bottom out, according to a separate report released by the KCCI earlier this month. Moreover, a KCCI poll of 220 Seoul-based manufacturers in late November found as many as 41.4 percent of the respondents predicting that domestic business circumstances are unlikely to enter a recovery phase even by the end of 2002. Source by: Korea Herald (2001.12.13)
- KOREA PULLING OUT OF BUSINESS SLUMP, FOREIGN INSTITUTIONS SAY
Running counter to domestic pessimism about an early recovery of the Korean economy, foreign investment banks have estimated that Corporate Korea has bottomed out, sources said yesterday.
In a recent analysis of Asia-Pacific economies, Goldman Sachs said that the Korean economy has entered an upturn phase, given positive signs such as a 2.3 percent rise in industrial output in October from a year ago.
Expectations for the recovery of the economy are running high as the business survey index, or business confidence in economic conditions six months ahead, rose to 85 for November from 75.9 in October, the global investment bank said.
With the year-on-year contraction rate of corporate capital spending easing to 4.4 percent in November from 6.4 percent in October, the Korean economy is likely to grow on the back of solid domestic demand, Goldman Sachs predicted.
In addition, economic growth is expected to get into full swing next year as the government is poised to engineer a business recovery by spending the bulk of the next year's budget in the first half of 2002, it said.
Lehman Brothers also said that the Korean economy is bottoming out in light of major macroeconomic indicators in October.
Korea's industrial output grew 1.9 percent year-on-year during the September-October period, a sharp turnaround from a 4.4-percent fall in August, the investment bank pointed out.
During the two-month period, the nation's wholesale and retail sales posted a strong gain of 6.2 percent, up from a 3.6 percent rise in August, Lehman Brothers said.
In particular, the base for domestic demand has become solid as sales of home electronics appliances such as digital TV sets jumped more than 60 percent year-on-year in September and October, it said.
Barclays Capital estimated that Korea's corporate restructuring and the government's stimulus measures are paying off as the country's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 1.8 percent in the third quarter of this year.
Korea's positive GDP growth is in sharp contrast to declines in GDP in Taiwan and Singapore, it said. Source by: Korea Herald (2001.12.03)
- FOREIGN INVESTMENT SHOWS GOOD MONTH
Foreigners invested $1.27 billion in Korea's industries in November alone, renewing the highest monthly record this year.
Even though the amount is up 25 percent compared to that of the same month last year, foreign investments as of November this year totaled $12.68 billion, down 7.6 percent from the identical period last year.
Foreigners newly invested in Tong Yang Cement Corp. and Ssangbangwool Development in November and made an additional investment in Korea Carrefour, each worth more than $100 million, pulling up the monthly record.
This year, foreigners increasingly invested in paper manufacturing, lumber and food industries and communication service companies.
In contrast, foreign investments in electronic and information communication manufacturers and finance companies have been noticeably cut short, analysts reported.
Foreigners down-scaled investments; investments worth more than $10 million each were less frequent, while small investments were on a steady rise.
"This year's foreign investments unlikely will near the last year's total of $15.6 billion, even if Daewoo Motor is sold before the end of December," said Park Cheong-won, head of Foreign Investment Promotion Division of the Commerce Ministry. Source by : JoongAng Ilbo (2001. 12. 08)
KOREA REGARDED AS ONE OF BEST INVESTMENT SPOTS
The term "more optimism and less pessimism" seemed to be the key slogan at a financial seminar in Seoul yesterday as market experts discussed the prospects for the Korean economy next year.
Experts pointed out at the Finance and Capital Markets Conference that though the domestic economy would not exactly make a "winged-flight" to prosperity, it would soon gain momentum for growth based on the stable won and efficient economic policies pursued over the past year.
"The Japanese government's current policy stance shows that a reformed Japan is very unlikely," said Michael Newton, Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corp.'s North Asian Chief Economist. "Korea, on the other hand, is being regarded by global investors as one of the best investment spots in the world."
According to Newton, Korea has been manifesting the highest money growth in Asia, while the nation's commodity prices have entered a trough, thus indicating a manufacturing upswing.
Other factors indicating an improved Korean economy included surprising growth of late and the strong fiscal and monetary policy flexibility of domestic policymakers.
The Bank of Korea (BOK) is also nearing the end of an easing cycle, while the won looks basically solid, drawing foreign investors to Korea.
However, the economist warned against being overly optimistic about the economy next year.
"Although the stabilization of economic activity is generally going forward, indicating the economy would bottom up next year, too much optimism is not good, and neither is too much pessimism, which had been prevailing until now," Newton said.
Meanwhile, Shin Young-kyun, Executive Vice President of Korea Asset Management Co., stressed the importance of establishing an efficient and mature financial system to prevent financial crises capable of toppling whole nations.
"In my view, the ability to build stable and sophisticated financial systems and economic structures lie in the effective disposal of bad debts," Shin said. "Bad debts are what increased the risks in the financial systems of many Asian nations to ultimately trigger the 1997 Asian crisis."
Although the exact amount of bad debts on a global basis is difficult to state, due to the difference in the criterion for weeding out bad debts and developing nations that are reluctant to reveal their bad debts, Shin gave an estimated figure of five trillion won.
He urged that bad debts be regarded as a global problem, for crises similar to the 1997 Asian economic crisis are capable of destroying the entire world economy.
Shin thus called for Asia to form more cooperative ties to effectively dispose of the bad debts in the region.
The conference was hosted by Euro FIA, and the panel included Cisco Systems, Reuters Consulting, Aberdeen Asset Management and Korea Management Consulting & Credit Rating Corp. Source by : Korea Herald (2001. 11. 28)
- PRESIDENT KIM VOWS TO DOUBLE RATIO OF FOREIGN INVESTMENT TO GDP
President Kim Dae-jung yesterday said the Korean government plans to raise the ratio of foreign direct investment (FDI) to gross domestic product (GDP) to a 20 percent level.
The Chief Executive made the remark in a pre-recorded congratulatory message he delivered yesterday at the first Foreign Company Day at the Seoul Hilton Hotel.
Kim said that the FDI-GDP ratio, which accounted for about 2 percent prior to the currency crisis in late 1997, has now risen to nearly 10 percent.
``We plan to raise the ratio to the 20 percent level,'' Kim said, pledging that the Korean government would continue to improve the foreign investment climate, so that Korea will become an investment center of Northeast Asia.
Commerce-Industry-Energy Minister Chang Che-shik and a crowd of 1,000 dignitaries, including CEOs of multinational enterprises, foreign investors, diplomats and Sohn Young-seok, president of the Foreign Company Association (FORCA), also president of Texas Instruments Korea, were present at the ceremony.
Organized by FORCA, to mark its 24th anniversary, the event was co- sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE), The Korea Times, the Hankook Ilbo, the Korea Broadcasting System and the Maeil Business Daily.
Minister Chang said the Seoul government would furnish an environment that enables multinational companies to run their business without any difficulty. He added that more apartments, schools and amenities facilities would be built for expatriates.
In a pre-recorded message, OECD Secretary General Donald Johnston praised Korea for ``having gone a long way in making the overall regulatory and administrative framework simple and user-friendly.''
He said the best way to obtain quality investment, whether foreign or domestic is to have a transparent and non-discriminatory regulatory framework. ``This is the stated policy of the Korean government and the OECD applauds the example that Korea is setting for the rest of the world,'' he said.
At the awarding ceremony, the highlight of the Foreign Company Day events, a total of 76 CEOs of outstanding non-Korean companies, foreign investment promotion bodies and local governments as well as Korean government officials, were given awards for their contribution to promoting inbound direct investment.
This is the second year that the Seoul government has given medals, citations and commendations to foreign enterprises in a public ceremony.
The top prize, the Silver Tower Order of Industrial Service Merit, went to Renault Samsung Motors CEO Jerome Stoll. Second prize, the Bronze Tower, went to Ssangyong Cement CEO Myung Ho-keun.
Seven companies, including GreenCross Vaccine, received an Industrial Service Medal, and six companies, including Motorola Korea, won a Presidential Commendation.
Nine companies, including Carrefour Korea, won a Prime Ministerial Commendation, and 12 companies, including Wilo-LG Pumps, received a Commerce-Industry-Energy Ministerial Commendation.
MOCIE Minister Chang Che-shik and a crowd of 1,000 dignitaries representing multinationals, foreign investors, politicians, embassies in South Korea and domestic economic institutions, such as Federation of Korean Industries chief Kim Kak-choong and FORCA President Sohn Young-seok, who is also president of Texas Instruments Korea, were at the ceremony. Source by: Korea Times (2001.12.19)
- GYEONGGI PROVINCE PROPELS KOREAN ECONOMY; STRIVES TO OFFER BEST INVESTMENT ENVIRONMENT FOR SMES AND FOREIGN BUSINESSES
Gyeonggi Province, commanding 23 percent of Korea's growth regional domestic product and 20 percent of its economic activities, has served as the economic heart of Korea. Determined to keep playing the role of an industrial powerhouse, the province is eager to offer the best environment for businesses, officials said.
Officials at Gyeonggi Provincial Government believe companies in the province have many factors that help boost their competitiveness in international markets. The province is home to some 28,000 small and mid-sized enterprises, or 27 percent of SMEs in Korea, meaning there are numerous suppliers of parts, components and raw materials nearby.
Gyeonggi accounts for 60 percent of Korea's semiconductor industry, 50 percent of high-tech electronics industry, and 70 percent of the biotechnology industry, which are pulled by 41 percent of human resources for research and development in Korea. Especially, it offers a market with 23 million-strong consumers, or nearly half of the nation's population, while serving as the hub of its distribution industry.
But the province is also faced with too many regulations which block big enterprises from settling down there, the officials said. Many large companies that moved into the province long ago are looking to relocate to other regions due to excessive regulations, they said. And the province is determined to change that.
"Excessive regulations are kicking out enterprises with international competitiveness in Gyeonggi Province to other regions and even to foreign countries," said a spokesman for the province. "The reality, however, is that a company cannot make growth simply because it moves into an area where only rent is cheaper."
"Companies need more than low rent or labor costs to make profits and grow," the spokesman said. They need manpower for R&D, and cooperation with universities, research institutes and related industries, as well as good living environment ensuring quality of life, he said. "Their employees need shopping malls, performing facilities and educational institutions."
In fact, many foreign residents pointed out the shortage of international education institutions and poor living quality as significant hurdles to foreign investment during a Seoul Town Hall Meeting lately. An investment expert also said this factor is increasingly critical to attracting foreign investment. "In order to induce foreign investment more effectively, it is now necessary to improve the daily living environment for foreigners working at foreign-invested companies," said Kim Il-san, a consultant at Office of the Investment Ombudsman.
Gyeonggi Province has been serving as the dynamo of Korea's economic growth, and "we have much bigger potential for further growth, the province said. Gyeonggi banks its future on Pyeongtaek Port, Incheon International Airport, its solid SME sector, extensive highway and railroad networks, plentiful land in northern areas, professional labor force, and economic benefits from the reunification of the Korean peninsula down the road, it said.
Pyeongtaek Harbor development
An official at the province's investment promotion team said a slew of recent social overhead capital projects such as Pyeongtaek Harbor development and Gyeongeui Line railroad bode well for the future.
The official said Pyeongtaek is emerging as a hub Harbor that will spearhead "the age of the West Coast" in Korea, following the opening of the Chinese market and the completion of a new highway along the coast. Construction of the Harbor started in 1989 for slated completion in 2011. Private investment is set to construct 41 berths, while government financing will build 21 berths. The number of total berths is planned to increase to 90 by 2020.
Following the Summit of South and North Korea, the Gyeongeui Line railroad project has been launched to reconnect Paju City through Munsan in northern Gyeonggi to Jangdan in North Korea crossing the Demilitarized Zone. Further, the railroad will be directly linked to Trans-Chinese Railroad, and Trans-Mongolian Railroad, and extend to Trans Manchurian Railroad and Trans-Siberian Railroad through branch lines.
"A new 'Iron Silk Road' is being constructed with Pyoengtaek Harbor and Gyeongeui Line," the official said. The Harbor will effectively connect Gyeonggi Province to the huge Chinese market across the Yellow Sea, while the new railroad will provide efficient logistics route to China, Russia and to Europe, he said.
Haven for venture business
In the wake of what it claims "the age of venture business, "Gyeonggi Province is also committed to the growth of its venture sector. The provincial government sent a group of specialists to world-renowned venture complexes, hoping to benchmark, and found that central governments are taking the lead in developing venture business complexes, and provides national assistances to venture enterprises in countries with a strong venture sector.
In contrast, the reality in Korea is that it took years and heated debates for the central government to give a green light to constructing a venture business complex in Pangyo area in Seongnam City, the province said. "It is regrettable that the designation of the area as a venture complex was an issue of controversy in the media in the first place," it said.
Originally, the central government insisted on allocating 100,000 pyeong for the venture complex in Pangyo. But Gyeonggi Province, committed to enhancing business environment undermined by red tape, requested the central government to raise the portion to 200,000 pyeong (660,000 sq. meters) and won approval at last.
As seen in foreign countries' cases, a venture industry complex is required to have a backup property for the expansion of the complex in the future, the province claimed. In addition, a venture complex should be furnished with research facilities, educational institutions and residential areas, it said.
SME promotion policies
Gyeonggi is also pushing to accelerate the growth of its economy through the development of SMEs, which have been serving as the cornerstone for its past growth. The province is running diverse promotional programs, namely a SME fund totaling 1.1 trillion won, the biggest among provinces in Korea, Gyeonggi Province Small Business Center, and a credit guarantee foundation for SMEs, while striving to attract foreign investment.
The province set up a 12 billion-won "Gyeonggi venture capital fund No.1" and a "Gyeonggi angel fund," for the one of its type in Korea, and runs a 3 billion-won fund for restructuring auto parts companies in the province, which provided financial help to a total of 27 billion won so far. It is operating 44 venture incubator centers, and three venture buildings accommodating 57 promising venture companies.
Active assistance in financing and promotion for the venture sector appears paying off. The number of venture firms in the province, which was 435 in 1998, jumped to 2,350, or 21 percent of 11,022 venture companies in the nation.
Then comes China, which just joined the World Trade Organization, opening its doors to the world. The Gyeonggi officials expect the market of 1.3 billion people in China will enhance the competitiveness of SMEs in the province, as China has the potential to grow to an exHarbor market bigger than the U.S. by 2010.
Industry sources say China's entry into the world trade body will add $1.3 billion to $3.2 billion in additional exHarbor to Korea, while raising Korea's import from the world's most populous country by $300 million to $700 million. "Gyeonggi will likely become the biggest beneficiary of the Chinese market among provinces in Korea, due in particular to its proximity," the province said.
Gyeonggi Province sees FDI a crucial factor to its economic growth. The province garnered $9.4 billion of FDI in 1,009 cases for the past three years. The figure is more than 3.3 times the $2.87 billion in 720 cases of FDI that the province attracted for 36 years since 1962.
Last year, Gyeonggi recorded $4 billion in FDI, which allowed it to grab the presidential award at an evaluation on provincial governments in FDI achievement by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy.
Amid the financial crisis in 1998, Gyeonggi's top priority was to activate the regional economy and resolve unemployment. This was particularly so because the province, responsible for 27 percent of the SME sector and 60 percent of the chip industry, was the hardest hit in the nation. In this situation, the provincial government led by the second elected governor Lim chang-yuel regarded FDI as the best way and the best choice to achieve the goals.
Governor Lim, who had served as the Minister of Finance and Economy, replaced his inauguration ceremony with investor relations sessions. Subsequently, he set up a "One-stop service for FDI" by establishing and reinforcing an investment promotion team. In the meantime, he himself served as chief investment officer, and took on overseas road shows for FDI inducement seven times. The province is operating an investment tour program, in which potential investors are invited to collect information on investment environment and take firsthand look at investment sites. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Also, the province is carrying out a range of projects open for FDI in fields that create high added values, including social overhead capital, environment, tourism, movie and game sectors. "We provide companies wishing to invest in Gyeonggi with comprehensive assistance during administrative procedures, encompassing drafting business proposals, and business consulting," the official said.
In addition, Gyeonggi institutionalized "foreign investment assistance rules," which provisions legal grounds for special investment incentives, and offers financial assistances to investors in diverse forms. They include an investment promotion funds, employment subsidy, and funds to promote investment inducement by city governments and companies, as well as special financial assistance for strategic industries designated by the provincial government. Source : Korea Herald 2001.12.03
- INSTITUTIONAL INVESTORS NEGLIGENT IN OVERSEEING CORPORATE MANAGEMENT
Local institutional investors were found to have been negligent in fulfilling their duty to oversee the management of the companies in which they have stakes, a study conducted by the Korea Development Institute showed yesterday.
The state-run think tank found that 28 investment trust firms and nine asset management funds exercised their voting rights for just 2.1 percent of the stocks they possessed in March 2000. The percentage rose to 4.5 percent in March 2001.
The study found that these institutional investors seldom attended the shareholders' meetings. "They took part in shareholders meetings only when asked to do so and in a passive manner," the report said, attributing the phenomenon partly to the short-term investment tendency of investment trust firms and their status as small shareholders.
More importantly, the report attributed the institutional shareholders' passivity and indifference to their affiliation with chaebol groups or other financial institutions.
"We now witness just negative aspects in the way investment trust firms exercise their voting rights," the report said, noting that investment trust firms, mostly affiliated with chaebol, banks and securities firms, currently exercise voting rights under the influence of their parent firms.
According to the report, investment trust firms and funds have objected only once to issues put forth at shareholders' meetings they have attended over the past couple of years, showing they have served merely as rubber stamps for large shareholders without actively trying to protect the interests of small shareholders.
"They (ITCs) have no internal guidelines for voting rights, no screening criteria," said Shin In-seok, a researcher at KDI.
Hence, Shin called for legislated guidelines requiring investment trust firms and funds to exercise their voting rights as shareholders.
"It is urgently needed that the government establish an infrastructure in which investment trust firms are obliged to exercise their voting rights on issues which seriously affect the interests of investors," Shin said.
The report called for the introduction of rules to ban third parties from meddling in the process of investment trust firms exercising their voting rights as shareholders. Source by: Korea Herald (2001.11.30)
- 58% OF KOREANS WELCOME MORE ENTRY OF FOREIGN FIRMS
Korea appears to be no longer a xenophobic country as a survey showed that 62 percent of the Korean people have a positive sentiment toward multinational enterprises and that more than half of the citizens, exactly 58 percent, welcome more entry of foreign firms in Korea.
In addition, 71 percent of the Koreans believe that foreign firms have contributed to economic development and 79 percent predicted that their role in economic development would become bigger in the future.
These facts were found in a survey of 1,000 Koreans that ORC Korea, a research firm, conducted between Nov. 29 and Dec.3. for the Foreign Company Association (FORCA). Those polled were aged between 20 and 59, and live in five major cities: Seoul, Pusan, Taegu, Kwangju and Taejon. The margin of error of the survey was plus or minus 3.1 percent.
The association commissioned the survey with the aim of gauging public sentiment about the foreign companies here, ahead of its hosting of the first Foreign Company Day, which falls on Dec.18, at the Hilton Hotel in Seoul. The Korea Times, a sister company of the Hankook Ilbo, as well as the Korean Broadcasting System and the Maeil Business Daily support the event.
A About 41.6 percent of the respondents believe that Korea's globalization has not matured enough, indicating that many Koreans still believe the nation has a long way to go before becoming a truly globalized country. It means the government' top-down drive for globalization has not spread across the country. Those who were exposed to foreign companies were especially cynical about the degree of globalization in Korea.
The survey showed that more than half of Koreans bring to mind foreign companies' impact on the local economy, whether it is positive or negative, before they conjure up the image of foreign companies or company names and brands.
About 25.5 percent of the surveyed said they think of positive impacts of foreign firms such as strengthening the competitiveness of the local economy, creating jobs, facilitating economic activities, increasing investment and introducing advanced technology. But 22.9 percent pointed out negative impacts of the non-Korean firms such as pulling profits out of Korea, lack of investment into the local economy compared with domestic ones, and the take-over of domestic firms.
As for the industry at the top of the respondents' minds, the financial sector was highly associated with foreign companies, followed by information technology, communications, and computers, food and pharmaceuticals, autos and machinery, and consumer business.
Asked to answer which company comes to mind first whenever they think of foreign firms, winners are , the winners were Citibank in the finance sector; IBM in information technology-communications-computers; Citibank in finance, IBM in information technology-communications-computer, McDonald's in food-pharmaceutical-tobacco, Renault Samsung Motors in automobile- machinery, Amway in consumer products, Carrefour in retail and Sony in electronics sectors.
As to why they have a positive view about foreign firms, the respondents said foreign firms upgrade the quality of products and strengthen competitiveness, create more jobs and sell excellent products. Those showing a negative view on foreign firms said they dislike non-Korean companies because they, ``weakened competitiveness of Korean companies and raked in profits outside Korea.''
The FORCA poll found an overwhelming number of Koreans or 87.3 percent recognized foreign companies have a sound financial structure. In addition, the majority of Koreans think foreign companies retain advanced technology and managerial skills.
Koreans' preference for foreign companies has been improved on the back of rational reasons such as contributions to the local economy in various aspects, but Koreans showed a chasm between such rational understanding and sentiment toward foreign companies as only 12.7 percent of the Koreans polled favors foreign firms over domestic small or large companies.
Asked about the most favored company category between foreign and domestic companies, Koreans put small-and medium Korean companies and large conglomerates on the top and second, ahead of foreign companies.
Meanwhile, despite negative sentiments toward foreign companies, more than half of the respondents, exactly 52.6 percent, answered that they want to work with a foreign firm rather than with a Korean company, because of such attractive factors as high wages and flexible working conditions. The respondents reluctant to work with foreign firms said they are afraid of overcoming cultural differences.
As for the level of the government's support to foreign companies, 61 percent said domestic companies take more benefits from the government than foreign firms.
What are the most serious factors troubling the operation of foreign firms in Korea under the less globalized business environment? Twenty-seven percent said the government's intervention and regulations are burdensome for foreign firms. Seventeen percent cited cultural and social differences as the second most troubling factor for non-Korean firms.
As the number of foreign companies has been increased, Koreans' exposure to foreign companies has risen up. The poll said 6.8 percent of the respondents had worked or are working with foreign firms. If family members' exposure to foreign companies is taken into account, the percentage rises to 15.7 percent. Source by: Korea Times (2001.12.13)
- PANEL EYEING APPLYING DOMESTIC FAIR TRADE LAWS TO FOREIGN FIRMS IN KOREA
In a few years, Korea will be imposing domestic fair trade regulations on foreign companies operating in Korea, the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said yesterday.
This is because the top agenda for the fifth World Trade Organization (WTO) held in 2003 is to be "competition policies", which means multiple nations will gather to discuss enacting an international set of laws to regulate offshore competition, the FTC said.
"It was decided at the recently held fourth WTO cabinet meeting at Qatar Doha to select the topic of competition policies, also dubbed as the 'Singapore agenda' at the next meeting, despite the opposition of many developing nations," one FTC official said.
Should competition policies be set down as part of internationally recognized regulations through the WTO discussions, Korea will be granted better authority to penalize the illegal trading of foreign firms in Korea and also on imported goods.
The FTC will also be empowered to impose intensive screenings and sanctions on the foreign-based firms pursuing corporate consolidations.
The number of overlapping reports on international merger and acquisitions (M&As) would also be reduced, while the nations concerning the M&As could reach a consensus on their response.
An internationally recognized set of criteria for competition policies was also expected to head off international cartels to lead to a drop in raw material prices, according to the anti-trust agency.
The top issues regarding competition policies was expected to be the promotion of transparency, fairness and equality in projecting the policies, and also the handling of hard core cartels and M&As.
"While domestic firms operating in the U.S. and Europe are imposed to rigid competition laws, foreign firms in Korea have mostly been unexposed to similar regulations due to the absence of legislation and a short staff," the FTC official said. "The inequality of this situation should be relieved when the multiple parties reach a consensus on the agenda of competition policies."
In addition to making preparations for the agenda discussions, the FTC also plans to allow attract more participants in order to better support countries newly implementing competition policies. Source by: Korea Herald (2001.11.23)
- FOREIGN FIRMS CELEBRATE SUCCESS
Foreign companies have done a good job expanding their presence in Korea this year, with many of them posting percentage sales increases in the double- and triple-digit range. Aggressive marketing efforts to change consumer tastes are bearing fruit.
The American International Group, a U.S.-based financial organization, is expected to post revenue growth of more than 200 percent. The insurer's growth in revenue from premiums this year follows nearly 120 percent growth in 2000.
Allianz First Life Insurance also saw revenue from premiums rise sharply, taking its market share from 3.6 percent for the 2000 fiscal year to 4.5 percent as of the end of October. The growth is equivalent to an increase of almost 1 trillion won in assets. Allianz has targeted the new market for whole-life insurance policies, as opposed to term insurance policies that dominated the market before its entry.
In the service industry, foreign companies' expansion has been spearheaded by aggressive and sophisticated marketing techniques. The operator of an online book club, Bertelsmann Korea, entered Korea in 1998 and has gone through a rapid period of growth since then. The company is projecting sales growth of more than 200 percent this year. Its marketing efforts online are paralleled by offline catalogues mailed quarterly to members and book clubs.
Other multinational companies that are expected to post triple-digit revenue growth this year include British American Tobacco and the Hong Kong-based healthcare distributing firm, Zuellig Pharma.
A health care product distributor, MSD Korea, is projecting a 70 percent growth in revenue this year to 116 billion won. "Our marketing is based on quality," one company official said.
Success at other companies came through the development of new markets. The Korean subsidiary of Procter & Gamble, P&G Korea, took half of Korea's potato chip market this year with its Pringles brand. The company credits this feat to products that answer new needs by consumers, citing in particular the mini-size can chip packaging.
The success of import auto dealers has been marked this year, as consumer acceptance of imports steadily improved.
Chang Kook-hyun of the Federation of Korean Industries, said, "These firms do well in marketing. The focus is on productivity and competitiveness."
Reducing costs through outsourcing peripheral operations and the relative strength of marketing and sales are also points that often set foreign companies apart from domestic businesses, Mr. Chang said. Source by: Digital JoongAng (2001.12.19)
- FOREIGN FIRMS INCREASING SUPPORT FOR FEMALE EMPLOYEES
Multinational companies in Korea are often considered model enterprises for such things as their peaceful relationship with labor unions and active investing practices. Add one more reason to the list - their "endless" support for the female workforce.
Major foreign firms working here are increasing programs that are giving greater consideration to their female employees as a way of increasing the competitiveness of both the companies and the female workers, industry insiders say.
Representatives from four multinational firms - Allianz First Life Insurance, IBM Korea, Citibank Korea and P&G Korea - gathered at a seminar organized by the American Chamber of Commerce's Professional Women's Committee (PWC) to highlight some of their companies' programs for supporting women at the Grand Inter-Continental Hotel Wednesday.
The audience included about 130 professional businesswomen.
"When we first acquired Jeil Life Insurance two years ago, it was a traditional, conservative and male-oriented insurance company," said Michel Campeanu, president of Allianz First Life and one of five panelists at the seminar.
"Today, 70 percent of new recruits for the head office are female and the Korean Ministry of Labor has designated us as a candidate for the 'Role Model Company for Equal Opportunity for female employees' award," he said.
According to Campeanu, who came to Korea six years ago, there are currently 15,000 "ajumma" (middled-aged women) who work at Allianz. Of them, 600 are branch managers who direct dozens of employees each and 45 percent (about 7,000) are married.
For this large group, the company currently gives 60 work days of maternity leave (versus the legally required 60 calendar days), offers the same training opportunities (i.e. high potential management programs, overseas assignments), runs a performance-based system and hosts special projects like summer camp for their children.
"But we are working on strengthening our program even more, such as implementing flexible work hours, offering choice for part-time jobs, extending child care system and narrowing the salary gap between the military served and non-served (mostly female) employees," Campeanu said.
IBM Korea, which has 369 female employees (18 percent), has also been concentrating on supporting the female workforce in line with its "Workforce Diversity Policy," implemented in June 1993.
For example, the company currently offers a flexible working hour schedule to cater to the needs of women who have families. Each are given the choice of the following work hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m., 9 a.m.-6 p.m. or 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
There is also a mother care center, a 90-day maternity leave (effective Nov. 1, 2001), one-year baby care leave and a system allowing leave of absence for educational purposes.
"But most unique may be our mentoring program and 'women networking,'" said Yu Myung-Sook, the company's human resources director. "The former is a program based on the idea that women can help each other advance best and the latter is a specific event, a biannual women conference hosted by the company's Women Council."
Citibank Korea, too, boasts one of the highest female manager ratios, with 40 percent of its senior managers being women. The general employees are also split almost evenly down the gender line, with 46 percent being women and 54 percent men.
"This is because our company is an equal-opportunity firm, which emphasizes importance of diversity and meritocracy," Ju Won-Geum, vice president of human resources, said.
Reflecting its respect for female employees, the company adopted the sexual harassment policy in 1997 and "Respect at Work" policy in 1998.
Proctor & Gamble (P&G) boasts a female presence of about 19 percent and also offers such programs as support for dependents (spouse, children, parents and in-laws), reimbursement of dependent care expenses on business, emergency loan, special leaves like maternity, child/family care, flexible work hours and the option of working at home.
The firm has already won awards for being "One of Top 10 Best Companies for Working Women" (U.S.) and "Best Multinational Company in HR Practices" (Korea).
Meanwhile, Korean companies like LG-EDS Systems (EDS), which has a 21 percent female workforce, is catching up with international standards in supporting women.
Among the firm's programs are flexible working hours, 3-month maternity leave, one-year nursery leave and bimonthly sessions for preventing sexual harassment in the workplace.
"Hiring, developing, and retaining a qualified female workforce in Korea is a key business imperative in the 21st century, and Korea has a highly educated and eager population of female employees," said Gwen Gash, co-chair of PWC. "We organized this seminar to let professional women here know how important their role is."
Among the 140 or so guests at the grand fair were wife of U.S. ambassador Joan Hubbard (spokesperson for PWC), Executive Director of AmCham Tami Overby, Joanne Lee of Star Communication and professional businesswomen from companies like Bain & Company, Century 21, Hanvit Bank, Korea Johnson, Morgan Stanley, P&G, Royal & Sun Alliance, Texas Instruments and AIG International Services. Source by: Korea Herald (2001.11.23)
- FACTORY CURBS ARE EASED : EXEMPTION GIVEN TO FOREIGN COMPANIES
The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said Monday it would extend the exceptions given to certain foreign businesses from the ban on new factory construction in the Seoul region. Four new sectors are being granted exceptions.
Domestic conglomerates, which are banned from setting up new plants in those areas, will also be allowed to do so in certain parts of the region.
The ministry said the move is designed to encourage more foreign and conglomerate investments.
Companies in 28 industrial fields that are more than 30 percent foreign owned will be allowed to build factories in growth-regulated areas until the end of 2004. The exception to allow such construction was to have expired at the end of this year. Those areas are mainly on the outskirts of Seoul; they include the municipalities of Dongducheon, north of Seoul, Ansan to the southwest and Osan, south of the capital, as well as nine other municipalities and three counties mostly in Gyeonggi province.
The new sectors added to the existing list of 24 sectors exempted from growth-limit rules are pharmaceutical processors, medical equipment manufacturers, semiconductor processing equipment makers and liquid crystal display manufacturers.
The restricted areas will also be open to factory construction by large domestic businesses. Even conglomerates that already have factories in operation in Seoul and other restricted areas have been prohibited from adding any new facilities in the areas in recent years.
An Industry Ministry official said, "There has been criticism that the old restriction was discriminatory against large businesses." It forced major companies to look to rural areas when considering new factories, effectively discouraging the companies from investing in new facilities, he said.
The changes will go into effect in January through changes to the regulations for the Industrial Placement and Factory Construction Act, the ministry statement said. Source by : JoongAng Ilbo (2001. 11. 27)
NAISSANCE D'UNE SUPER BANQUE
La nouvelle Kookmin Bank, née de la fusion avec Housing and Commercial Bank, devient la plus grande banque de Corée.
Le nouvel établissement financier né d'une fusion-acquisition entre les banques Kookmin Bank et Housing and Commercial Bank ouvrait ses portes le 1er novembre dernier, soit dix mois après la conclusion, au mois de décembre 2000, de leur accord de regroupement. A l'occasion de la cérémonie inaugurale, Kim Jung-tae, qui venait d'être nommé à la présidence de la nouvelle entité, a déclaré qu'il entendait avant tout privilégier la rémunération des actionnaires. "La direction s'est fixé pour objectif prioritaire d'optimiser le rendement des valeurs mobilières", a annoncé M. Kim. "Je m'emploierai également à générer des bénéfices et à accroître notre valeur commerciale en mobilisant toutes les ressources qui sont à ma disposition", a-t-il ajouté. Ce diplômé de l'Université nationale de Séoul souhaite par ailleurs diversifier les sources de profit de l'établissement en procédant à l'informatisation de ses agences et à la commercialisation de produits et services non bancaires. M. Kim a en outre fait part de son intention d'étendre la distribution des options sur titres (stock options) à l'ensemble des salariés afin d'instituer une rémunération au mérite et d'investir davantage dans l'amélioration des prestations du personnel.
Un secteur bancaire national en pleine réorganisation
La nouvelle Kookmin sera à la tête de 185 360 milliards de wons d'actifs (soit 142,5 milliards de dollars) qui feront d'elle la plus grande banque de Corée ainsi que l'une des soixante-dix premières à l'échelle mondiale. Elle sera dotée de vingt-deux sièges commerciaux et de 1 128 agences, réparties sur l'ensemble du territoire et à l'étranger, qui emploieront un effectif de 19 410 personnes. Détenant 9,6 % de parts de capital dans la nouvelle banque, l'Etat en sera l'actionnaire majoritaire, suivi de Goldman Sachs et ING Baring, respectivement titulaires de 6,9 % et 4 % des actions. Un responsable de la Kookmin a par ailleurs fait savoir que des négociations portant sur l'élargissement de la participation d'ING étaient en cours. Au cours des neuf premiers mois de l'exercice, la Kookmin Bank affichait des bénéfices nets de 863,1 milliards de wons, alors que H&CB en enregistrait pour sa part 763,9 milliards. Des bénéfices qui, pour la première, devraient atteindre deux mille milliards de wons sur l'ensemble de l'année. Celle-ci devrait en outre acquérir 62 % des parts du marché des crédits à la consommation et près de 36 % de celui des dépôts bancaires. Suite à l'ouverture officielle de la Kookmin Bank, l'agence de notation Standard & Poor's Corp. (S&P) a fait savoir le même jour qu'elle lui avait attribué la note de solvabilité BB+ et jugeait favorables les perspectives qui s'ouvrent au nouvel établissement. Dans la notation de cet organisme, la note BB+ se situe juste en deçà de la note de contrepartie. En tout état de cause, la création de cette super banque devrait avoir d'importantes répercussions sur l'ensemble du secteur bancaire national, et en provoquer de ce fait la réorganisation. Aux dires des professionnels de ce secteur, elle jouerait donc pour ce dernier un rôle catalyseur de bouleversements. "Pour les banques de taille moyenne, la seule alternative sera de fusionner ou de contracter des alliances stratégiques entre elles pour pouvoir survivre à la concurrence de celles qui se sont déjà regroupées", prévoit un analyste. Kwak Young-sup Source : Le Courrier de la Corée 2001.11.20
- TAKING IT TO THE BANK
Korea has proved an excellent investment for the international finance industry. Banks, insurance companies and securities houses have found in Korea a rich an emergent market eager for their products and a management style that promises stability
In general, the financial industry is regarded as the life-blood of a country. That is, the economy of a country can be considered in good health if its financial industry is similarly disposed.
A nation's financial industry is the cornerstone through which strategic industries and national competitiveness can be built. Because of its importance, the Korean financial sector was liberalized and opened to foreign participation at a relatively slower rate than other industries in Korea.
When liberalization of the capital market began in the late 1980s, foreign financial institutions began to establish in the domestic market on a gradual basis. However, major advancement on their part into the domestic market only began at the end of 1997 with the onset of the foreign exchange crisis. At that time, almost all barriers to the capital market were removed under the recommendation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). As a result, all types of financial institutions from a variety of nationalities, ranging from banks, insurance, and securities companies to investment trust and leasing companies are now operating in Korea. The Korean financial industry thus underwent a rapid reorganization.
On Sept. 29th the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) announced business results of foreign banks operating in Korea for the first half of 2001. According to the FSS, a total of 44 foreign banks were operating 63 branches in Korea at the end of 2000.
Foreign banks doing business in Korea came from a total of 16 countries. By country of origin, the United States accounted for the largest number with 12, followed by Japan with six, France, five, and Singapore, four. According to the FSS data, the remaining 35 foreign banks, excepting the seven that closed their doors at the end of March every year and two that were newly established, experienced a sharp increase in business volume in the first half of this year from a year earlier. In particular, Citibank, Chase Manhattan Bank, Standard Chartered of Britain, and BOA of the United States, exhibited high rates of growth, posting net profits of 62.6 billion won, 42.4 billion won, 20.5 billion won, and 18.1 billion won, respectively.
The combined assets of foreign banks, which enjoyed their rapid growth by focusing on retail banking and expanding investment in bonds, amounted to 53.5 trillion won, accounting for 6 percent of the total assets of all banks in Korea. This represents an increase of over 35 percent from the same period of last year. Thirty-two out of 35 foreign banks recorded profits, and their combined net profits came to 305 billion won, amounting to 8.9 percent of the total for the banking industry. The Bank of Korea said Oct. 5th that the productivity of foreign banks is three times higher than that of domestic general banks. Such results demonstrate the foreign banks management strategy of broadly marketing their services armed with huge amounts of credit in such areas as export-import financing, wholesale financing, housing financing and private banking in order to improve productivity.
Citibank and HSBC (Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corp.) are representative foreign banks operating in Korea. The common points between them are rapid growth based on sound practices and their expansion into retail banking.
Citibank was the first foreign financial institution to establish in Korea. It was founded in the United States in 1812 under its original name of "City Bank of New York." It was re-named with its current appellation in 1976. Citibank began business in Korea in September 1967 to provide corporate financing to Korean companies. The bank opened a branch in Pusan in 1977, again a first time for a foreign bank, with retail banking as its major focus in 1986.
Performance indicators of major foreign banks, first half 2001(unit: billion won)Total Assets Owned Capital Net Profits 00.6 01.6 00.6 01.6 00.6 01.6 Citibank 9,423.0 12,031.6 848.3 806.0 67.1 62.6 BOA 1,436.8 1,767.6 251.6 247.2 10.5 18.1 Standard Chartered 1,330.0 3,095.3 175.1 197.4 17.4 20.5 ING 1,450.0 2,416.4 166.2 187.3 7.0 4.6 Deutsche Bank 3,133.4 3,430.6 75.7 139.9 30.2 12.4 Credit Lyonnais 1,012.6 1,722.1 216.1 237.2 3.2 13.7 Chase Manhatta 2,635.9 4,415.5 602.4 526.6 24.3 42.4 AMN Amro 2,043.2 2,629.4 262.0 165.3 10.7 12.2 HSBC 3,088.0 4,260.0 457.5 478.2 22.6 17.7 CSFB 1,075.2 997.5 139.5 117.5 18.8 16.5
Source: Financial Supervisory Service (Sept. 2001)
With the opening of its Bundang branch last September, Citibank now has a total of 12 domestic locations, including nine in Seoul and two in Busan. Of all the foreign banks, Citibank is the toughest competitor with its domestic counterparts in the retail banking field. Also, Citigroup, the financial holding company of Citibank, is regarded by domestic financial institutions as a formidable opponent in the areas of securities trading, venture capital financing, leasing and credit cards.
HSBC, a British bank with headquarters in London, ranked fifth among the "World Super 50 Companies" selected by the American biweekly business magazine, "Forbes," last July. HSBC commenced retail banking in Korea in 1998.
Despite a short history of operation in this field (just two-and-a-half years), HSBC has encroached upon a significant slice of the domestic market through an intense marketing drive. In particular, HSBC has been actively targeting individuals as potential clients since it introduced mortgages last year. After pulling down its lending interest rate to 7 percent annually, HSBC has led the domestic mortgage market. Its marketing focus is extremely broad in scope, encompassing home owners from low-to high-income brackets. The bank announced Nov. 1st that it will increase the number of its branches from the present seven to 10 by establishing a branch in Kwangjang-dong, Seoul at the end of this year and other two more branches next year.
In addition to Citibank and HSBC, such leading foreign banks as JP Morgan, ABN Amro, BOA (Bank of America), UBS (United Bank of Switzerland), CSFB (Credit Suisse First Boston) have established in Korea, all with a focus on investment rather than retail banking.
Foreign banks began to advance into the domestic financial market in earnest in the early 1980s. As an adjunct to its export-driven economic development policy, the government of the day actively lured foreign banks to Korea to fuel the expansion of domestic companies within Korea finance their trading in overseas markets. Since then, foreign banks have gradually increased the number of their branches and expanded their scope of business initially centered on corporate financing. Following the foreign exchange crisis at the end of 1997, foreign banks extended their range of activities to the retail banking sector.
Foreign institutions have also made inroads into the domestic insurance industry. The fact that Korea is one of the world's top six insurance markets well indicates the interest that Korea holds for foreign insurance companies and their rapid growth. Korea is regarded as one of the finest places in the world to cultivate the insurance and asset management businesses, given the nascent nature of both the rapid change in the economic and corporate environment, plus the relatively high interest in asset management because of the aging of Korean society. Also, the fact that the propensity to save is traditionally high among Koreans has underpinned the country's position as a high-growth potential, emerging market in the insurance sector.
Foreign insurance companies first entered the Korean market 10 years ago. At that time, they successfully introduced "whole life insurance," a product then new to Koreans. Through whole life insurance, an insurer guarantees the payment of benefits to a policyholder for his or her whole life, regardless of age or the cause of death. The contents of the policy can be structured according to wishes of individuals by allowing them to select any of the special options so offered.
Prudential Life Insurance was the first company in Korea to introduce whole life insurance. The whole life insurance market has grown rapidly with the number of policies issued soaring from 330,000 five years ago to 1.9 million at the end of June. It is the most popular insurance product, as attested by the fact that almost 80 percent of all products sold by domestic life insurers are whole life products. After realizing the marketability of this form of insurance, Korea's three largest insurance companies ¦¡ Samsung, Kyobo, and Korealife ¦¡ launched products of their own and competed toe-to-toe with their foreign counterparts.
Better capitalized and vested with more advanced techniques than domestic insurers, foreign insurance companies are increasing market share in insurance payable-to-death through their original introduction of whole life insurance. Although domestic companies dominate the life insurance market, foreign insurers grew steadily every year by focusing on whole life products aimed at professional high-income bracket individuals.
Movement into the domestic market by foreign insurers has been eased through their purchases of existing insurance companies. Young Poong Life was sold to the British financial group, Prudential (no connection to the above-mentioned Prudential of the United States). Young Poong Life, a healthy insurance company established in 1990 with 107.1 billion won in assets at the end of last September 2000, was sold to Prudential for 37 billion won ($28.5 million). Prudential, an insurance and investment trust company founded in London in 1848, was already operating life insurance businesses in 12 other Asian countries. With the acquisition of Young Poong Life, the Pru is seeking greater expansion in the Asian market.
Allianz First Life represents the first case of a domestic life insurance company being sold to a foreign insurer. Created in 1999 through the sales of First Life to the German insurance group, Allianz, Allianz First Life, caused a stir in the industry because of its aggressive marketing techniques and differentiated products. The Allianz Group is the world's biggest financing, insurance, and service company with some 700 subsidiaries, joint ventures and alliance companies operating in some 70 countries around the world. Widely different from domestic insurance companies, which are saddled with negative spreads, Allianz First Life has fostered the capability of its officials through the development of intensive financial management programs. At the same time, its management reorganization and the deployment of new sales channels are keeping domestic competitors off balance.
Gross Premium income and market share of domestic and foreign insurance companiesCompany Amount Market Share Ranking Samsung 8,835,624 39.6 1 Korealife 4,563,523 20.4 2 Kyobo 4,182,837 18.8 2 Allianz First Life 939,493 4.2 4 ING 275,499 1.3 11 Prudential 184,121 0.8 13 MET Life 141,365 0.6 14 AIG 78,615 0.3 20
Source: Korea Life Insurance Association (44/1/2001-9/30/2001)
Foreign insurance companies continue to create demand through the introduction of innovative products. First American Title Insurance Company (FATIC) of the United States broke new ground by offering title insurance for the first time in Korea last July. FATIC is the world leader in the field of title insurance, a form of insurance designed to compensate against loss or damage resulting in defects or failure of title to a particular parcel of real property. It has been used as a safety device for real estate transactions in the United States, where no system of real estate registration obtains. Although such a registration system has been introduced in Korea, numerous disputes have arisen over real estate transactions. Moreover, title insurance premiums are relatively high at a 0.5 percent of the value of the real estate in question. Accordingly, insurance experts anticipate that title insurance, if well-managed, will create a bigger market than fire insurance. In the titl!e insurance market, whose market volume is expected to reach over 300 billion won per annum, domestic insurance companies, which lack the necessary sales experience and know-how, reportedly believe that they will lose out to foreign insurance companies in this new, high-potential field.
CARDIF of France is a financial company specializing in bancassurance, a French term referring to the sale of insurance products through a bank's distribution channels under a business agreement between the bank and an insurance company. CARDIF has recently applied to the Financial Supervisory Service to establish a corporation. As the Korean government is planning to pass legislation to permit bancassurance system in August 2003, CARDIF's application is, accordingly, a source of tension in the domestic financial market.
The introduction of the new system is expected to prove a boon to foreign institutions, which have long been in preparation for its introduction, but act as a challenge to domestic companies. As a large shareholder of Hana Bank, Allianz First Life, is well-positioned to reap the biggest benefits from the introduction of bancassurance in Korea.
ING Life has also mapped out an aggressive bancassurance strategy to capture greater market share. The prospect of foreign insurers encroaching on their customer base through bancassurance has raised anxiety levels at Korea's "Big Three" life insurers, Samsung, Kyobo, and Korealife.
The Korean insurance market was first opened to foreign participation in 1989 in response to threats by the United States to invoke the Super 301 trade law. The market share enjoyed by foreign insurance companies subsequently went up from 1.3 percent in 1997 to 5.6 percent by February 2001. The structure of the domestic life insurance market, however, remains oligarchic with the top three insurers (Samsung, Kyobo, and Korealife) accounting for 80 percent of total business. The domestic insurance industry faces a host of problems in its efforts to fend off foreign competition. They include widespread insolvency, high policy cancellation rates, and too great a spread between credited and debited rates. Foreign insurance companies have enjoyed rapid growth in specialized territories and pose a continued threat to domestic insurers in mainstay areas of the insurance business, experts point out.
What are the reasons behind the excellent results and high growth of foreign financial institutions in Korea, which has a relatively short history of open capital markets? First, foreign financial institutions have a sound image because their strict internal controls work to maintain financial stability. The non-performing loan ratio of the Seoul branch of Citibank, for instance, was below 0.5 percent at the end of last year. In sharp contrast, the non-performing loan ratio of those Korean banks that received public funds was more than 10 percent, and for healthy Korean commercial banks, over 5 percent.
Foreign banks have also enhanced their credibility among consumers by adopting a management strategy that places emphasis on shareholder value, profitability, and risk management. This is attested by the fact that the proportion of both deposits and credit/household loans to high credit-rated customers were much higher in foreign as compared to domestic banks. Through the force of competition, the management pattern of foreign banks has brought changes in the way domestic banks do business. For instance, foreign banks regularly publicize the results of their audits as a means of building consumer confidence, a practice now benchmarked by a number of their Korean counterparts. In a nutshell, changing market trends with their emphasis on security has played a key role in enhancing the status of foreign financial institutions. Following the experience of the economic crisis, the order of priority when considering an investment has switched from potential profitability! to liquidity. For reasons of security, those who manage vast funds prefer to use foreign financial institutions simply because of their transparency and lower risk of bankruptcy.
Overall, foreign financial institutions offer high-quality financial services by making the best use of their available funds, high credit status, professional personnel, and advanced financial techniques. By these means, they are able to offer customers a variegated range of financial services to match individual needs, so stealing a march on domestic financial institutions that are still weak in terms of customer service. Foreign banks are also continually developing new financial products for the convenience of customers such as Citibank's "revolving card," whereby as long as monthly payments of 5 percent of the total charge are made, the card can be used against its credit line without restrictions.
The analytic strength of foreign securities companies plus the overall level quality of information they provide overseas institutional investors, has prompted the domestic brokerage industry to enhance its ability to gather information, analyze corporate data, undertake accurate credit appraisal, and formulate investment strategies.
Foreign insurance companies are focusing on offering long-term guaranteed insurance products, including whole life insurance tailored to specific customers. While domestic life insurance companies attract customers on the basis of personal relationships, foreign insurers train their salespersons to be more professional and strive to meet the individual insurance needs of their customers.
The expanded entry into the Korean financial market by foreign financial institutions is criticized domestically on the grounds that it weakens domestic companies. Chung Ki-young, head of Samsung Economic Research Institute, for example, expressed concern that while the opening of the domestic financial industry has had a positive impact in terms of management transparency, soundness and competitive ability, foreign capital has emerged as a major force in the domestic financial industry and may one day dominate it. The Korean financial industry it is agrued now faces a situation whereby foreign financial institutions are to poised to win a considerable portion of the domestic market. In such a case, observers worry that the domestic economy will suffer a huge outflow of capital should another financial crisis occur.
Despite such apprehensions, it might also be argued that foreign financial institutions could inject fresh vigor into the domestic financial industry and help domestic companies improve their international competitiveness. Customers will therefore benefit from the improved quality of services. In particular, the introduction of advanced financial techniques from foreign financial institutions is expected to result it an expanded range of services being offered and so better address the needs of customers. The rapid advance into Korea by foreign financial institutions with their advanced business strategies could encourage domestic companies to seek mergers or acquisitions, introduce ancillary businesses through financial holding companies, and form business tie-ups with foreign concerns as a means of surviving in the market and improving their international competitiveness.
In fact, the foreign share of the domestic financial market cannot be considered is not large at present. In regard to banking, foreign bank branches account for only 2 percent to 4 percent of total credit issued and 7 percent to 8 percent of total assets at all banks. In the securities industry, branches of foreign companies tend to conduct simple brokerage functions for investors in their home countries. Since foreign insurance companies focus on offering guarantee-based products, their market is limited.
However, the market share of all foreign financial institutions in all fields has been on a sharp rise. They are expanding their business scopes to cover investment trusts, leasing, and credit analysis, in addition to banking, insurance, and securities. In the case of leading foreign bank, Citibank, deposits snowballed by 2 trillion won to over 6 trillion won in the latter half of last year during at a time when domestic banks were in the throes of restructuring. Deposits at HSBC underwent a four-fold increase. Over the last seven years, the combined policy values underwritten by foreign life insurance companies has increased 100-fold.
The worldwide trend toward capital market liberalization has further accelerated the entry of foreign financial institutions into Korea. In their wake they have brought international competitiveness and stability to an often troubled industry and new products that better meet the increasingly complex needs of the Korean consumer.
Updated Nov 3rd 2001, By Seong-Woo Hong ( email@example.com ) - Source : KT&I december 2001
- BULLISH MARKET PROMPTING BANKS TO RAISE INVESTMENT IN STOCKS
Buoyed by the year-end bullish run of the stock market, domestic banks are moving to expand their portions of investments in stocks to total securities holdings next year, bank sources said yesterday.
The banks have been cutting down on their stocks investments since a 1997 foreign exchange crisis as the economic crisis made a number of large companies collapse, thus making them suffer huge losses.
However, rising hopes for an earlier-than-expected recovery of the economy have recently provided a big momentum to the stock market, whose composite price index has broken through a 600-point mark in nearly two years.
Many government officials and private economists predict that the Korean economy may hit bottom during the first quarter of next year and then begin to recover from a prolonged slump.
Bolstered by the rising stock market, the sources said, banks are set to increase exposures to stocks by outsourcing asset management specialists and drawing up separate pay systems for them.
Hanvit Bank, the flagship of the state-run financial holding company Woori Finance Holdings, said it would raise an investment ceiling on stocks to 100 billion won in 2002 from 50 billion won this year.
Depending on the future movement of the market, the bank will also increase its outstanding value of stock investments, which currently stands at a mere 10 billion won, a bank official said.
The Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK) has recently hired two fund managers in line with its policy to participate actively in the stock and bond markets next year, a bank official said.
The state-run bank has promised the two experts to pay them performance-based bonuses if the track record of their stock investments goes beyond a predetermined level, he said.
Hana Bank has decided to increase its stock investment limit to 120 billion in 2002 from 90 billion won this year, while Korea Exchange Bank also said the bank plans to up its investments in stocks.
"Banks are actively preparing to increase stock investment, as they expect the stock market to become more brisk should signs of an economic recovery become clearer next year," a bank official said. Source by: Kora Herald (2001.12.17)
- PAYOFF FROM IT INVESTMENT BELOW EXPECTATIONS: FKI
While domestic corporations have steadily increased spending on information technology (IT), the payoff has not been satisfactory, the Federation of Korean Industries said in a report yesterday.
The report pointed out that corporations have failed to systematically manage their IT investments. A failure to thoroughly assess and manage payoffs resulted in a waste in manpower and resource use.
The main reasons for the unsatisfactory outcome, the report said, were the tendency to pursue partial improvement instead of fundamental change, the perception that IT spending is an expense rather than an investment, insufficient data standardization and the lack of skill to manage change.
Consequently, to improve efficiency in IT investment, the report recommended that companies develop a well-advised business strategy and model under the active involvement of top management, pursue integration of business processes and establish an IT promotion team consisting of field experts.
The report also noted the need to establish an IT investment management process to eliminate inefficiencies and long-term IT investment - Source by: Korea Herald (2001.12.14)
- FDI CONTINUES TO POUR INTO IT INDUSTRY
Foreign investment into the information & communications sector reached US$4.87 billion at the end of October 2001 and it continues to grow.
According to the Ministry of Information & Communication's announcement on the 19th, the Philips of Netherlands and LG Korea signed a mutual agreement in June to establish a venture corporation that will produce 80 million CRT-screens yielding US$399 billion yearly into the information & communications sector of IT industry.
The last year's foreign investment into the information & communications sector reached US$2.744 billion and in 1999, US$2.249 billion poured into the sector.
The government experts explain that foreign direct investment is growing yearly as well as foreign investor's participation through shareholding (e.g. portfolio investment) in this field.
A well-known Internet auction site of U.S., 'E-bay' (www.ebay.com) recently took over a domestic auction site called 'Auction' (www.aution.co.kr) investing over US$120 million and 'Dacom Crossing', a subsidiary company of Dacom, also took in US$28 million in disposal of its shares to England based company.
Moreover, 'NC Soft', a game software company, 'InfoDisc', a telecommunications company, and several IT companies attracted both direct and portfolio investments.
According to a top official at the Ministry of Information & Communication, the ratio of foreign investment amount toward information protection, mobile communication, and wireless Internet sectors is increasing on the average by 10% yearly. As the weight of the information & communications industry is becoming greater nationally, a growing foreign investment in this field carries a significant importance in rallying the nation's economic competitiveness. [Source provided by: Yonhap News] Translated by: Cyber KISC Operation Team
- MICROSOFT INTRODUCES E-HOSPITAL IN KOREA
Software giant Microsoft launched the Healthcare.NET consortium to establish the information technology infrastructure needed to make hospitals go online, aimed at accelerating the ``open hospital'' system earlier than planned.
Chipmaker Intel, medical information portal site Mdsave, solution provider Insoft and medical consultancy Unionhealth all joined the consortium, Microsoft Korea said yesterday.
The ``open hospital'', a hot issue in the local healthcare industry, describes a system whereby small hospitals can co-utilize medical equipment, facilities and human resource from larger hospitals. Small hospitals will then be able to provide continuous healthcare services without losing patients due to a lack of resources. Larger hospitals can also expand profits, getting payment in return for renting their resources.
It was designed by the Ministry of Health last year to maximize the limited resources in the industry by reducing overlapping investment among medical organizations, as well as provide developed healthcare services to customers. As of now, 30 large healthcare entities across the nation tentatively run the system, with a larger launch in the near future.
If such cooperation among hospitals makes synergy effects, building the information technology network linking co-operated hospitals is also necessary.
The Microsoft-led Healthcare.NET consortium will take such a role, bringing .NET, Microsoft's vision of the next generation Internet, to the local healthcare industry. .Net, Microsoft described, lets customers connect to the Internet anytime and any place through any Internet-enabled device.
.NET for healthcare, Microsoft explained, will enable every industry player, including patients and hospitals, to be linked in a single environment through the Internet where they can share information, reduce errors and inefficiencies and ultimately improve quality of care.
If an open healthcare system is built linking hospitals with consumers and other industry players, each person can create their own healthcare plan and keep their own medical records, or keep their schedule for taking prescription medicine.
The Healthcare.NET project focuses on building such a system in the local medical industry, taking advantage of the upcoming ``open hospital'' system.
The consortium hit the road to promote the ``open hospital'' system in Seoul today, and will visit five major cities, including Pusan, Taejon and Taegu to present success stories of building e-hospitals. Source by : Korea Times (2001. 11. 27)
- MOBILE TELEPHONE MAKERS TAPPING EU MARKET - By Kim Deok-hyun
Domestic mobile telephone makers are seeking to grab a major chunk of Europe's mobile handset market, preparing to export general packet radio service (GPRS) handsets.
The GPRS system, initiated from the Europe-backed global system for mobile communication (GSM) technology, has been dubbed as the 2.5-generation because it is a halfway house to the full third-generation (3G) mobile telephony.
Analysts viewed the GPRS phone networks would be a mainstream over the next four to five years, even though the timing of commercialization is still uncertain.
Samsung Electronics first dipped its toe into the European 2.5G mobile phone market by shipping 5,000 GPRS phones to German wireless operator T- Mobile last month.
The phone blended large liquid crystal displays with an Internet-enabled keypad, promising a data transmission speed of 144 kilobits per second at its peak rate.
Samsung Electronics spokesman Kim Sae-hoon, said the company plans to supply some 500,000 units by the end of this year.
Over the next three years, he said Samsung would sell around eight million GPRS handsets in Europe, aiming to grab a 10 percent market by 2003.
Samsung's archrival LG Electronics is also testing exports of its GPRS phones for European consumers.
The nation's distant No. 2 mobile phone maker is currently carefully studying its rival's options for exports, pinning its hopes on the success of 2.5G mobile telephony.
In June, LG Electronics exported 10,000 GSM-based phones to Russia. The model, equipped with a wireless application protocol (WAP) browser for limited Internet services, has various functions such as a quick document save feature, an information search and a speakerphone.
LG Electronics officials said the export of mobile phones to Russia should provide a foothold in its securing of Europe's GSM and GPRS telephone markets and the company will soon penetrate the Italian, Spanish and British markets by the end of this month.
``When the commercialization of GPRS services is on the horizon, we will supply our GPRS phones to Europe,'' said an LG Electronics spokesperson.
However, likewise other continents' next-generation mobile telephony initiatives, Europe's GPRS network is still a conundrum, plagued by delays and no one really knows how popular it will be.
Analysts said part of the problem is that telecommunication operators are struggling under a mountain of debt after paying dearly for a slice of the third-generation pie. firstname.lastname@example.org - Source : Korea Times 2001/11/30
- LA COREE DU SUD INTERDIT LES ALIMENTS A L'OR
Le gouvernement sud-coréen a interdit la vente d'aliments portant des décorations à base d'or car cela pourrait provoquer l'irritation de la population contre les riches, ont déclaré vendredi des responsables de l'hygiène publique. La Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) a imposé la mesure après qu'une société de Séoul eut commencé à vendre des poissons sèchés saupoudrés de poussière d'or. Le poisson se vendait 200.000 wons (156 dollars) et des critiques ont jugé la mode décadente. "Nous avons décidé d'agir car on voit tant d'aliments chers contenant de l'or que cela provoque le ressentiment du public à l'égard des riches", a dit un responsable de la KFDA. "Si cette mode continue, on finira un jour ou l'autre par avoir du riz doré dans ce pays", a-t-il dit. Les restaurants et cafés des quartiers chics de Séoul servaient déjà du poisson cru, du café et même du porc saupoudrés d'or à des consommateurs qui croient que le métal précieux purifie leur organisme. Des liqueurs contenant des particules d'or sont également populaires. La KFDA s'est appuyée sur une loi n'autorisant l'usage d'or que pour colorer des boissons et des sucreries. Source : AFP | 23.11.01 | 10h47
- LE TRANSPORT : FACTEUR ESSENTIEL DE PROMOTION DE LA COOPERATION REGIONALE
La deuxième Conférence interministérielle sur les infrastructures (Ministerial Conference on Infrastructure), qui s'est ouverte le 12 novembre dernier à Séoul, a porté principalement sur le thème de la mondialisation et de l'intégration des infrastructures de transport, qui constituent un facteur essentiel de promotion de la coopération régionale, a déclaré Kim Hak-su, secrétaire général de la Commission économique et sociale des Nations unies pour la région Asie-Pacifique (ESCAP, U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific). "La question de la coopération régionale a pris encore plus d'importance depuis les attentats terroristes du 11 septembre, dans la mesure où l'Europe et les Etats-Unis constituent les destinations finales de la majeure partie des expéditions de marchandises en provenance du continent asiatique", a-t-il affirmé au cours d'un entretien accordé à la presse locale. "Mettre en uvre les moyens de promouvoir le commerce international et celui entre les régions parmi les pays membres de l'ESCAP, tel est l'un des objectifs clés que s'est fixé la conférence". Par ailleurs, il est important de développer les infrastructures dans leur ensemble, afin de consolider la coopération économique régionale sur la base d'un renforcement des équipements de transport, a précisé le secrétaire général. Faciliter le passage des frontières représente un autre aspect de la question qui doit être abordé si l'on veut réaliser cet objectif.
* La Corée, la Russie, le Kazakhstan et la Mongolie posent les jalons de la liaison ferroviaire Asie-Europe
Dans ce but, un protocole d'accord a été signé par quatre pays membres, à savoir la Corée du Sud, la Fédération de Russie, le Kazakhstan et la Mongolie, le 16 novembre dernier au cours de la réunion des ministres. Le protocole permet aux pays signataires de mettre en place un comité directeur en vue de discuter des moyens à mettre en ©"uvre afin d'éradiquer les obstacles au franchissement des frontières, et de procéder à des essais sur la partie septentrionale du réseau ferroviaire trans-asiatique qui relie l'Asie et l'Europe. La Chine, la Pologne et la Biélorussie ont par ailleurs manifesté leur intention de signer le protocole d'accord, tandis que la Corée du Nord devrait prochainement y adhérer, a ajouté M. Kim. Une fois que le comité directeur sera fixé sur l'itinéraire, le calendrier et les méthodes de coopération prévus pour l'opération test, les huit pays procéderont au lancement d'un parcours de démonstration sur la ligne trans-asiatique, en vue d'identifier les problèmes éventuels et d'y apporter les solutions adaptées, a annoncé Kim Hak-su. L'ESCAP a proposé cinq points de départ pour la liaison septentrionale de la ligne trans-asiatique, qui couvre la péninsule coréenne, la Chine, le Kazakhstan, la Mongolie, la Fédération de Russie, la Biélorussie, la Pologne et l'Allemagne, a fait savoir M. Kim. Les cinq points de départ proposés sont les villes de Busan, Najin en Corée du Nord, Vostochny en Russie, et Tianjin et Lianyun en Chine. Le secrétaire général de l'ESCAP a affirmé que le trajet de démonstration partant de Busan serait possible dès que le rétablissement de la ligne Gyeongui, qui relie Séoul et Shinuiju en Corée du Nord, sera effectif entre les deux Corées. Faciliter le passage des frontières, en standardisant les documents et en simplifiant les procédures de dédouanement, permet en outre de réduire les coûts de logistique, qui constituent l'un des soucis majeurs rencontrés par les pays exportateurs, a expliqué Kim Hak-su. Ainsi, dans le cas de la Corée, les frais d'expédition représentent 16 % de son produit intérieur brut (PIB), tandis que pour le Japon et les Etats-Unis, ils se limitent respectivement à 9,5 % et 9 %. "Si la Corée parvenait à réduire d'un point seulement les frais d'expédition, elle pourrait renforcer sa compétitivité sur les marchés mondiaux", a estimé le secrétaire général de l'ESCAP. Un autre thème de discussion abordé au cours de la conférence fut la question du financement des infrastructures et de la participation des entreprises du secteur privé. La conférence a d'autant plus encouragé la participation du secteur privé aux travaux de construction des infrastructures, que les ressources financières dont dispose le gouvernement dans ce domaine ne sont pas suffisantes à elles seules pour être en mesure de couvrir la totalité des investissements nécessaires pour construire des autoroutes ou des voies ferrées, a précisé M. Kim. La conférence s'est achevée le 17 novembre dernier avec l'adoption de la Déclaration de Séoul pour le développement des infrastructures dans la région Asie-Pacifique (Seoul Declaration for Infrastructure Development in Asia and the Pacific), qui appelle à un redoublement d'efforts de la part des pays membres en vue d'affermir l'intégration des équipements de transport, dans le but de réduire les coûts et d'accélérer le rythme de livraison des marchandises. Lee Jae-hee Source : Le Courrier de la Corée 2001.12.04
- THE KOREAN AUTO MARKET
Foreign involvement in the ever-changing Korean auto market is becoming more intense at all levels. While foreign car imports win growing acceptance among Korean consumers, overseas investment is transforming the domestic auto industry into manufacturing base for the rest of Asia
Despite the continuing global economic slowdown, domestic automobile manufacturers have enjoyed flourishing sales at both home and abroad. Key to their success has been their concerted and novel marketing activities including discounting new model introduction. While the U.S. car market overall registered a double-digit decrease from a year earlier, eroded by economic downturn and frozen sentiment in the wake of the Sept. 11th terror attacks, sales of Korean cars for the year grew more than 20 percent to more than 500,000 units in November. As a growing number of American consumers have begun to opt for smaller-sized cars because of growing economic uncertainty, the market climate has been favorable to Korean car makers with their focus on small and medium-sized models. Experts concur on that this trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future to the benefit of Korean producers.
Meanwhile, the lingering issue of ailing Daewoo Motor appears closer to resolution with the emergence of General Motors (GM) of the United States as a likely buyer. Although GM and Daewoo have yet to sign a contract, the envisioned sale of Daewoo will undeniably boost Korea's credit rating given the drain the automaker has been on the public coffer, and dispel the possibility of another financial crunch. In addition, GM's purchase of Daewoo would trigger huge changes in the structure of the domestic car market.
Daewoo Motor, creditor banks led by the Korea Development Bank and GM signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on a proposed acquisition, Sept. 21st. With the signing of the MOU, the creditor banks and GM are set to ink a contract after a due diligence period of no more than three months before inaugurating a new corporation sometime in the first half of 2002.
Under the agreement, GM will not directly acquire Daewoo Motor as in the case of ordinary merger and acquisition (M&A). Rather, GM agreed to set up a new judicial corporation with the creditor banks, tentatively named GM-Daewoo, which will take over Daewoo Motor. GM has agreed to invest $400 million in the new corporation in return for 67 percent of the equity, while the creditor banks are set to pour $197 million order to form $600 million in initial capital and thereby claim the remaining 33 percent of stakes. A contentious part of the deal was GM agreeing to assume Daewoo Motor's operating debt of $510 million plus the $324 million debt borrowed by the company's foreign subsidiaries. Under these terms, the new corporation will acquire major assets of Daewoo Motor.
Those assets include two factories in Gunsan and Changwon, overseas production lines in Vietnam and Egypt, 22 overseas marketing corporations, together with the R&D and repair facilities at the company's aging Bupyeong plant. However, in a controversial move, the production lines at the Bupyeong plant were excluded from the purchase list. Another corporation will be set up to run the plant for the six years, while GM will then make a final decision on whether to purchase the plant depending on its state of labor/management relations. The two sides also agreed to renegotiate later on the acquisition of the automobile company's marketing corporation.
The assets and debts subject to acquisition by GM-Daewoo amounts to $2 billion, composed of $1.2 billion in assets and $844 million in debts. GM agreed to issue preferred stocks worth $1.2 billion with a dividend rate of 3.5 percent to the creditor banks. In return, the creditor banks agreed to provide long-term funding of up to $2 billion for the new corporation.
The preparatory work for GM's acquisition of Daewoo Motor has thus been wrapped up. GM is likely to face little difficulty in securing the funds for the takeover should it succeed in increasing the sales from the Gunsan and Changwon plants to 3 trillion won from the current level of 2.7 trillion won and raising their operational rates.
Additionally, the Korean government is poised to provide various incentives for GM. On the day when the parties signed the MOU, the government held a meeting of economic ministers chaired by Finance and Economy Minister, Jin Nyum where it was decided to exempt GM-Daewoo from corporate and income taxes for its first seven years of operation. The government also decided to waive special consumption taxes for GM-Daewoo for the first nine years. The corporate and income tax exemptions were in accordance with the Foreign Investment Promotion Act while the waiver of the special consumption tax was instituted especially for GM-Daewoo, a move which will give the company an edge over other car makers that will be obliged to pay the tax.
Daewoo, the Opportunity for an Asian Base
The MOU on Daewoo Motor was signed two years and one month after the automotive firm was placed under a workout program in August 1999 following its financial collapse. Daewoo Motor has since burdened the Korean economy to the tune of $200 million per month. Ford Motor Co. of the United States broke off acquisition negotiations in September 2000 after which the Korean automaker's stock price plummeted.
The MOU between Daewoo and GM, of course, is not legally binding. Progress on a final contract depends on the successful conclusion of a collective bargaining between Daewoo Motor's trade union and its management.
It is generally believed that GM has been desperate to strike deal with Daewoo Motor in order to establish a production base in the rapidly growing Asian car market, close to both China and Japan, and steal a march on its competitors. GM has the lowest penetration rate in the Asia/Pacific region among all its worldwide markets. GM sells some 300,000 cars in the region, excepting Japan representing only 3.7 percent of the market, compared with percent for Ford. GM currently has production lines in six Asia/Pacific nations: China, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, India and Australia plus it has secured a joint-venture partner in Japan.
To effectively compete in the Asia/Pacific market, GM launched production of its medium to large-sized Buick model in Shanghai, China in 1999 and raised its stakes in Isuzu and Suzuki, its joint-venture partners in Japan. In addition, its massive automotive assembly plant established in Rayon, Thailand last year can turn out 140,000 units annually.
However, production at the Thai and Indonesian falls far short of capacity. Moreover, although its Japanese joint venture has a sizable output, GM has failed to secure major shareholder status and so lacks control of the operation.
GM's bid for Daewoo Motor has been made in line with these other efforts to establish a greater presence in the Asia/Pacific market and it is for this reason that GM has continued to pursue a deal with Daewoo that Ford felt it did not need.
In order for GM to realize its goal of achieving a 10-percent share of the Asia/Pacific market by 2004, it needs to expand its sales volume by three fold from its current level, a feat which would be impossible by simply augmenting existing lines. In conclusion, it would have no choice other than to acquire other companies with a current stake in the market. Given that Daewoo's sales are some 300,000 units in Korea alone, almost equivalent to GM's present total sales in Asia/Pacific, GM will be able to double its share to 7.4 percent immediately with its takeover of the Korean automaker.
GM CEO and president Rick Wagoner, recently stated that the Daewoo line-up is an ideal means for GM to advance into the Asia/Pacific region. His statement was interpreted as an expression of strong intention to promote Daewoo as the locus of GM's Asia/Pacific operations.
Korea is regarded as an ideal platform to serve the Asian market. GM CEO Rick Wagoner said, "Daewoo has excellent design capability and price competitiveness and is expected to make an impact on the world market as well as domestically." Since Korea's car component industry is vested with world-class technology and price competitiveness, GM-Daewoo would have a sharp competitive edge if it succeeded in capitalizing on these advantages. As to why Renault selected Korea as an Asian production platform, Renault-Samsung vice president Oh, Jung-Hwan said, "Japan has too an expensive cost structure while China has lagged far behind technologically. Korea represents an excellent site in terms of assembly capability and offers price competitiveness."
The concept of promoting Daewoo to be GM's center of Asian operations was developed as part of the automaker's mid-to-long-term business plan. It is too early to expect Daewoo will become GM's Asian export base in the near future.
Daewoo accounted for less than 20 percent of the domestic market last year, but given that the company once claimed 40 percent, it is highly likely the company would be able to double its sales following a GM acquisition and force considerable change on the market structure.
A Multinational Contest
The domestic car market is expected to become an arena of three-way competition. The first group of players will be native Korean producers like Hyundai and Kia. The second will be global, plural-nationality manufacturers like GM-Daewoo and Renault-Samsung. The third will consist of car importers. The multinational nature of the contest will intensify given Daimler-Chrysler and Mitsubishi have a 20-percent stake in Hyundai Motor, and Ssangyong Motor, now under a work-out program, is poised to sell equity to a foreign buyer.
According to KAMA, Hyundai Motor accounted 49.4 percent of the domestic market in the January-August period this year, ahead of Kia Motors and Daewoo Motor, which took 27 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively. Ssangyong Motor and Renault-Samsung accounted for 7.4 percent and 4.5 percent shares, respectively. The fact that native Korean companies claim 83.8 percent of the market heralds difficulties for GM in its bid to build local presence through the acquisition of Daewoo Motor.
However, it is far from certain that the native Korean companies could expect continually rising sales. GM, with its state-of-the-art technologies, marketing know-how and financial assets plans to set up a new corporation in April next year at the earliest to expedite efforts to nibble at the "'pie" of the domestic companies. Some market watchers have even predicted that GM-Daewoo could claim a 33-percent market share, as did Daewoo in early 1998 when it was the largest domestic producer.
"GM is likely expand sales by all possible means in the Korean market with the goal of boosting its market share to 40 percent," said a Daewoo executive. "It is set to integrate the 570 distribution outlets nationwide that are currently split 30/70 between direct agencies and dealers. The aim is to create outlets that generate massive sales while reducing their numbers."
Prompted by the proposed GM takeover, sales of Daewoo cars are now on the upswing. According to the Korea Development Bank, Daewoo's credit standing has been enhanced since the signing of the MOU and consumer anxieties have eased over the provision of after-sales service. For instance, Daewoo car sales, which previously amounted to 480 units per day, rose 30 percent to 620 per day following the signing. Daewoo said domestic sales rose to 16,094 units in November, an increase of 15.8 percent from a year earlier.
SM Staying Power
Renault-Samsung has also been eager to increase its share of the domestic market. It has continued to register rapid growth, selling around 7,000 medium-sized SM5 cars per month, accounting for over 25 percent of all medium-sized sedans sold. It plans to present unveil its SM3 model early next year with the aim of increasing its market share to 10 percent level by 2003.
Purchasers of Renault-Samsung cars must wait three weeks for delivery, a fact which points to the growing popularity of the SM series.
In September 2000, when Renault-Samsung was launched, the company sold 1,500 cars. Sales then surged to 9,300 units in the fourth quarter last year, again increased to 12,074 units in the first quarter this year and rose to more than 5,000 units per month starting March. Sales exceeded more than 5,000 units for the following three consecutive months. In June, Renault-Samsung sold 7,000 cars. In the first half this year, it sold 29,375 cars, up 295 percent year-on-year.
The SM5 is not a new model and it is relatively expensive. Nonetheless, the boom continues. The company considers a major reason to be the quality of its cars. "Korean automakers tend to change models too frequently, but we never changed the classic SM5 model since it was first introduced here," said Samsung-Renault assistant director, Ha, Tae-Eung. "Our current successful performance seems largely due to offering quality products with a high level of after-sales service." He went on to say that Samsung cars continue to be popular as they only use top-quality, trouble-free components.
Renault-Samsung has also employed an intense marketing and service promotion campaign since it was established in July last year through Renault of France acquiring 70.1 percent of then ailing Samsung Motor. Its extension of its warranty period, previously mentioned, has been a prime ingredient in boosting sales. The company also offers free transmission service up to five years or 100,000 kilometers.
Renault-Samsung cars are enjoying a steady rise in popularity among taxi companies as well as the passenger car market. Market resources say about half new taxi purchases are SM5s. The company claims that despite its expense, the SM5 is increasingly the choice of individual taxi drivers because of its reputation for being trouble-free.
Encouraged by the success of the SM5, Renault-Samsung president Jerome Stoll revealed in a Feb. 13th press conference that the company will launch its "semi" medium-sized, 1,500cc- to 1,800cc-engine capacity SM3 series sometime late next year. It will also introduce its SM7 large-sized passenger car series by 2005 with the goal of offering consumers a comprehensive model line-up.
Renault-Samsung was founded with a three-stage development program in mind. Under the first-stage, the company aims to complete its management structure by next year. It will also seek to realize 1 trillion won in total sales by selling 68,000 units of the SM5 and SM3 series combined. Under the second stage, from 2003 to 2004, the company the company plans to sell 200,000 cars in the domestic and foreign markets by complementing the SM5 and SM3 with the SM7 series.
- RECENT AUTOMOBILE SALES TRENDS (Unit:cars)2001.06 07 08 09 Domestic 131,843 126,943 123,147 134,226 Exports 150,659 130,546 146,758 167,516 Total 282,502 257,489 269,903 301,742
source: Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association
Mr. Stoll expressed confidence that the firm would enter a period of strong growth territory during the second stage and achieves 2 trillion won in total sales. Under the third stage, from 2005 to 2010 the company plans to add the SM4 plus SUVs to its line-up to sell 500,000 cars, 50 percent of which will be destined for overseas markets. By 2010, the company aims to be a gigantic producer with revenues of 8 trillion won by 2010.
Hyundai Motor and its affiliate Kia Motors have been put on alert by Renault-Samsung's ambitious plan and GM's move to take over Daewoo Motor. Hyundai alone accounted for 50.9 percent of the domestic market in July, surpassing the 50-percent level for the first time in 30 months since February 1999. In August, it claimed 50.4 percent of the market. January to September, the company sold 541,027 cars in the domestic market, accounting for 49.6 percent of the total. Hyundai has been committed to winning 50 percent of the domestic market, a share the company has never enjoyed before. In recent years it has claimed 48.4 percent in 1996, 46.9 percent in 1997, 43 percent in 1998, 46.6 percent in 1999 and 45.2 percent last year.
Should Kia Motors sales be included in the tally, Hyundai's share increases to 76.5 percent of the total, representing a virtual monopoly of the market. Kia accounted for 26.9 percent of the market in the January-September period. Hyundai-Kia has been far outperforming Samsung Motor and Daewoo Motor, which were and are about to be merged into Renault and GM, respectively. A major reason for Hyundai's improved performance was the collapse of its once rival, Daewoo Motor. It also presented successful new models late last year such as the Santa Fe, New EF Sonata and Tuscani, to complement steady sellers like the Avante XD and Grandeur XG.
Hyundai-Kia has been keeping close tabs on GM's moves. With a view to bracing itself for a future of heightened competition, the company has focused on building quality competitiveness, reorganizing its marketing network and strengthening its service capability. It is also trying to put its mark on the future development of compact cars and diesel-powered automobiles.
Going Up in a Down Market
Through its joint venture with Daimler, Hyundai aims to build a "world car" to expand its sales in overseas markets. It is also aiming to develop large-sized and commercial vehicles and new models featuring price and quality competitiveness. Also under consideration is designating Kia Motors as a specialist producer of recreational vehicles (RVs) and compact and small-sized cars. Analyst Son Jong-won said, "Hyundai-Kia has emerged as a formidable car marker in the world market, able to match GM and Renault in many respects. I anticipate strong competition from the three in the Korean market." He said in his estimation, Hyundai had the capability to develop a model superior to anything GM or Renault could produce.
Being thrust into competition on its home turf with world-class carmakers has the potential to stimulate Hyundai-Kia to raise its quality and service competitiveness plus its image in overseas markets. Hyundai, for its part, could take advantage of the opportunity to expand in export markets in the process of coping with a new array of business challenges at home.
Despite the frozen consumer sentiment and economic slowdown in the wake of the terror attacks on the United States, Hyundai has managed to increase its sales in the U.S. market, hitting the 500,000-unit level for the first time. The company is expected to sell up to 650,000 cars by the end of the year should the current trend continue. According to the U.S. branches of Hyundai, Kia and Daewoo, Korean carmakers sold a total of 527,116 cars in the U.S. market in the January-October period: Hyundai sold 294,523 units, Kia 189,424, and Daewoo 43,169, respectively. The figure represented a 31.1 percent increase from a year earlier. Hyundai and Kia posted 41-percent and 42-percent growth rates while Daewoo marked a 27.7-percent decrease. In particular, Hyundai and Kia registered the first- and second-largest growth rates among all car sellers in the United States this year. In terms of total sales, Hyundai finished eighth in the U.S. market behind GM, Ford, Daimler-Chrysler, Toyot! a, Honda, Nissan, and Volkswagen. Kia ranked 10th after Mitsubishi.
Paradoxically, the adverse consumer sentiment in the U.S. following the 9/11 attacks has helped Hyundai increase its sales in the world's largest car market. Due to economic uncertainty, an increasing number of U.S. consumers have been opting for lower-cost small and medium-sized cars. In the United States, most imported Korean cars are regarded as being small - to medium- sized. However, low prices alone cannot appropriately explain Hyundai's success in the American market. Rather, it is best understood as a return on Hyundai's efforts to upgrade quality and brand image, as well as meet the taste of local consumers. In the past, Korea cars, represented by the Pony and Excel were regarded as inferior. But thanks to Hyundai's endeavors, that label is now a thing of the past. For example, U.S. sales of Hyundai's ambitious Santa Fe model, which stood at only 410 units in 2000, rose to 35,000 this year.
Hyundai continued to rank in upper levels in various surveys on consumer confidence. JD Power and Associates, a global marketing information services firm, placed Hyundai at the top league along with Toyota, BMW and Honda in terms degree of satisfaction among dealers, a barometer which greatly affects automobile sales. In terms of appeal to consumers, the firm in a recent seminar said Hyundai's Grandeur XG and Santa Fe have outmaneuvered similar models by Toyota and Honda.
Hyundai Motor is committed to improving its performance in the European and Chinese as well as the North American market. A new campaign began in the European market at the start of the fourth quarter. In China, the company has established joint ventures responsible for commercial vehicles sales. Hyundai's stated aim is to grow to become one of the world's top five carmakers over the next five years.
Indeed, Hyundai's success, together with Renault's acquisition of Samsung Motor and GM's proposed takeover of Daewoo Motor reflect the significance of Korea as a platform for serving the huge Asian market. Korea is Asia's second-largest car market with sales of 1.45 million units per year. It offers lower costs of development compared to the United States and Japan, as well as an abundant source of quality components and engineers, factors that enhance the prospects for continued growth of the domestic car industry for years to come.
The rising presence of leading foreign car manufacturers in the Korean market has resulted in a remarkable narrowing of differences between domestic and foreign automobiles in terms of quality, price and car concept. Consumer preferences will change accordingly. From a long-term perspective, the local involvement of foreign makers like Renault, Daimler-Chrysler and GM will help advance the domestic car industry and strengthen its competitiveness to enable it to rank as a world leader - Source : KT&I - December 2001
- THE TREND TO BIG MEDIUM-SIZED CARS AND SUVS
The increasing foreign presence is not the only salient trend in the Korean auto market. Koreans preference for vehicle size is moving to the larger end of the scale.
Relatively small-sized cars of less than 1,500cc engine capacity were the most popular models in Korea up to the mid-1990s and accounted for more than 50 percent of the entire market. Standards have since changed. Today, the demand for medium-sized cars continues to increase, while that for small-sized models has been on the decline. Cars with engine capacities between 1,800cc and 2,000cc are now the most popular models in Korea.
Models in this category include the New EF Sonata, SM520, Optima, and Magnus, sales of which reached 225,509 units as of the end of October this year. Their share of the entire domestic car market amounted to 25.2 percent, meaning one in four purchasers bought a medium-sized car. In the meantime, sales of small-sized cars at 187,625 units accounted for only 21.0 percent over the same period, although they accounted for the largest share, 22 percent, last year. Medium-sized cars also began to dominate the taxi market. Small-sized taxis of less than 1,500cc-engine capacity gradually disappeared because of sluggish demand, to be replaced by medium-sized cars.
The rise in sales of medium cars has been due to enhanced living standards that have encouraged consumers to opt for convenience and safety, the prime merits of medium-sized models. A growing number of small car users are opting for medium-sized models, and they are increasingly becoming the cars of choice for beginner drivers.
"As the auto companies have improved the quality of medium-sized cars, they have become more popular with buyers," said KAMA manager Kim Joo-hong. He went on to say the preference for medium-sized cars would continue unless small carmakers took steps to significantly upgrade the functionality and safety of their vehicles.
Many analysts forecast that the sports utility vehicle (SUV), too, will emerge as the leading model in 2002. The SUV boom, prompted by the launch of the Ssangyong Motors "Korando Family" in 1988, began in full swing in 1993 when automakers introduced their own models. In 1999, the SUV market grew an outstanding 163 percent from a year earlier. SUVs took 12.6 percent of the market as of the end of September this year and are expected to register sales of more than 200,000 units in 2001, rising to 250,000 units next year.
In anticipation of the growing importance of this market, auto makers are paying keen attention to the responses and behavior of SUV consumers, and adjusting their marketing tacks accordingly. Hyundai and Ssangyong launched high-end SUV models this year, joined by Kia's "Sorento" in December. Hyundai followed up its first SUV model, the jeep-like "Galloper" with the "Santa Fe," a high-power, low-noise and low-vibration passenger car-type SUV, plus its large-sized deluxe "Terracan." This line-up has enabled Hyundai Motor to address all levels of demand in the SUV market.
For the time being, foreign carmakers are maintaining a wait-and-see-approach in regard to the SUV market, keeping close eyes on the moves of their domestic competitors but planning to introduce models of their own in the near future.
While it may seem odd for automakers to devote such energies to the production of SUVs given they account for only 10 percent of the market, in view of the saturated passenger car market, this new vehicle type represents a promising new option. In particular, given the proposed five-day workweek, the demand for SUVs is expected to increase explosively. Source : KT&I - December 2001
- CUSTOMER SERVICE IS THE KEY THE IMPORTED CAR MARKET
Korea became the world's fifth-largest car exporter last year, selling 1.66 million units in total. Despite booming overseas sales, imports of foreign-made cars reached only 4,400 units in the same year. Against this backdrop, automobiles topped the agenda during trade talks between Korea and the United States held June 12th to 13th. The United States Trade Representative (USTR), Ambassador Robert B. Zoellick strongly called on the Korean government to immediately take steps to help foreign auto companies increase sales in Korean market by means such as lowering tariffs and revising the vehicle tax system.
Sales of imported cars in Korea peaked in the mid-1990s. In 1996, sales exceeded the 10,000-unit level, accounting for 0.82 percent of the domestic car market, but when the financial crisis hit Korea in December 1997, sales of foreign automotive vehicles fell drastically.
Today, signs have been appearing to suggest a recovery in imported cars sales to pre-crisis levels. The Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA) estimated sales of imported cars would amount to 8,607 this year, an increase of 95 percent from a year earlier. It also forecast imported cars would account for 0.8 percent of the domestic automobile market in 2001, compared with 0.4 percent last year. The organization went on to say the share of the imported cars would continue to increase, and surpass the 3-percent level in 2005.
In 1996, Chrysler took the lion's share in the imported car market, accounting for 20.7 percent of the total, followed by BMW (14 percent), General Motors (13.2 percent), Mercedes-Benz (11.9 percent), Ford (11.4 percent) and Volvo (10.4 percent). The situation has since changed remarkably. This year, BMW has dominated the domestic market with a 37.8-percent share, ahead of Mercedes-Benz (15.3 percent), Chrysler (12.6 percent), and Toyota (11.2 percent). European and Japanese cars have been taking the lead in the market's recovery.
BMW of Germany with market share of 38 percent registered a sales increase of 80 percent from a year earlier. Toyota of Japan's popular Lexus model, the Lexus LS 430cc has achieved sales of 100 units in although it is the highest-ticket item in the series, priced at more than 100 million won ($77,000) per unit.
How have these foreign makers been able to make inroads so quickly into a market previously noted for its preference for "buying Korean?" The answer lies in their focus on a client-first strategy, rather than on the brand images of the cars in question. BMW, in particular, has registered phenomenal performance. The German firm had previously been regarded as kind of "underdog" in Korea compared with the leading car companies like Ford, Chrysler, and Volvo until 1995 when it first established a direct marketing system with the launch of BMW Korea. While the financial crisis prompted a number of foreign companies to reduce business operations and even leave the country, BMW expanded its business network. The company at that time judged it would have no chance to lead the domestic market unless it switched to a customer-oriented policy, given the fact it sells mainly expensive cars in the 50-million to 100-million won ($38,000 to $76,000) range.
The Lexus had been a top-selling car for Toyota in the United States since it was first introduced in 1989. Experts believe that the brand image and reputation Lexus earned in overseas markets has enabled it to achieve booming sales in Korea. In fact, Lexus customers in the main comprise those who have traveled overseas for study or business purposes. In addition, Toyota Korea has integrated its business activities consisting of sales, marketing, after-sales service and repair into a one-stop concept, a first for foreign car company operating in Korea. Toyota has also extended Lexus warranty period to "four years or 100,000 kilometers" as opposed to "two years or 40,000 kilometers" offered by domestic companies.
As to why American carmakers have failed to regain their former robust level of sales after dominating the foreign car market to the mid-1990s, many experts cite the steady appreciation of U.S. dollar against Korean won. In addition, as American cars were designed with wide roads and an abundance of parking space in mind, Korean consumers have largely eschewed them. Experts also cite that U.S. cars lack the luxurious image that attaches to their European counterparts.
Historically, Korean consumers have not dared to purchase imported cars. High prices have been a factor but so has fear of censure by family, friends and co-workers. The situation, however, has changed since Renault took over ailing Samsung Motor to provide cars at reasonable prices that can match those of domestic models.
The Renault-Samsung SM5 is a model of global cooperation. It represents the product of Korean manufacturing capability, French capital and management techniques via Renault of France, and benchmarking of the Maxima car produced by Renault strategic partner, Nissan Motor Co. of Japan.
Successful examples of multinational cooperation in the auto industry represented by Renault-Samsung are blurring the line between domestic and foreign cars. The multinational nature of the Korean auto industry will be enhanced should GM takeover Daewoo Motor.
The increase in sales of imported cars is expected to continue for the time being, boosted by novel promotional tactics and the continuing change in customer opinion. Should the Korean authorities accede to the U.S. demand to lower the tariff from the current 8 percent to 2.5 percent, sales of imported cars would increase further, so expanding their share in the domestic market.
Currently, imported cars account for only less than 1 percent of the domestic market. However, the share of large-sized cars amounts to 10.4 percent, portending a steady increase of imported car sales in the years to come. Source : KT&I December 2001
- SWEDISH TRUCK FIRM TO OPEN PLANT HERE
Scania, a Swedish truck manufacurer, said Monday that it will build a plant to produce commercial vehicles in Sacheon, South Gyeonsang province.
Staffan Sjogren, chief executive of Scania Korea, signed a letter of intent to establish a manufacturing plant in an industrial complex in Sacheon with Kim Hyuk-kyu, governor of South Gyeongsang province, and Kim Su-yeong, mayor of Sacheon city.
Scania said it will lease a site in the industrial complex and invest $30 million to build the plant. It projected a total investment of $50 million over the next five years.
The plant will have a capacity of 1,200 trucks a year, the company said. Scania is the fourth-largest producer of heavy transport trucks in the world. It began selling its vehicles in Korea in 1978, and said it sells about 1,000 trucks a year in its 11 sales branches here.
The plant will employ about 300 workers, the company said, and the vehicles produced there will be up to 50 percent Korean content. Source by: Digital JoongAng (2001.12.18)
- LAUNCHING OF NEW STEEL BEHEMOTH IN EUROPE BENEFICIAL TO POSCO
All eyes were on Pohang Iron & Steel Co. (POSCO) following the announcement of the launch of the world's largest steelmaker NewCo Thursday, as the industry wondered what effects the development will have on the firm, currently the world's second largest steel manufacturer.
Some noted that POSCO's ranking will drop another notch and that its competitiveness will slide when compared to the new company's combined technology and business.
NewCo is the product of a merger between steelmakers Aceralia of Spain, Arbed of Luxembourg and Usinor of France. The European Commission competition authorities approved the three-way merger on Wednesday. But launching of the European giant will likely benefit POSCO in the long run, industry sources said yesterday.
"First, Europe is not a major market for POSCO, thus there will be very little effect short-term wise," said Lee Eun-young, steel industry analyst at LG Securities.
"More long-term, the new European giant will force the industry in that region into restructuring, probably forcing many less competitive firms to shut down. This cleaning up of the industry will help POSCO become more competitive globally later," she said.
Lee added that POSCO is already in an improved position with the United States' steel industry experiencing its worst crisis in 20 years. According to reports, 26 U.S. steel companies are in financial trouble, and the fourth-biggest U.S. steel firm, LTV, requested liquidation on Tuesday, with the loss of 7,500 jobs.
"POSCO is in a very good position in the U.S. right now, even with the threat of the U.S. possibly imposing tariffs on South Korean steel products soon," the analyst said.
POSCO, which produces about 28.5 million tons of steel per year, also said that it is not concerned about the opening of the steel giant in Europe, stressing that its major business is in Asia, namely China and Japan.
"We wouldn't be professional if we said we're not keeping a close eye on the newest development, but we don't believe that we will feel any direct impact from the launching of NewCo," a POSCO official said, not wishing to reveal his name.
"As far as ranking goes, we stopped paying attention to it a couple of years ago. We don't believe that the ranking system has any real significance in actual business," he said.
Critics do note, however, that the European company will probably end up competing with Asian firms in markets like the United States for cheaper, lower-quality steel products.
NewCo is expected to produce 45 tons of steel per year, with annual sales reaching about $26 billion, snatching up some five percent of the fragmented global market.
Furthermore, the formation of NewCo is only the beginning of a trend, industry experts say, pointing out that other deals are pending. Among them are the merging of Japanese groups NKK (sixth in ranking) and Kawasaki Steel (11th) by 2003, which will become the world's second largest steel company in terms of size, and the expected joining of the German ThyssenKruppStahl and another European company, possibly British giant Corus.
"Even if we ignore such trends, current over-surplus and low demand in the world should be enough reason for the Korean firms to increase restructuring efforts," Lee said. Source by : Korea Herald (2001. 11. 24)
- LA BATAILLE COMMERCIALE ET TECHNOLOGIQUE POUR LA PROCHAINE GENERATION D'AVIONS DE COMBAT
Quatre sociétés aérospatiales internationales ont présenté des offres pour le projet F-X concernant la prochaine génération d'avion de chasse sud-coréens. Même si le contrat semble se jouer entre le F15 de l'américain Boeing et le Rafale du français Dassault, l'eurofighter Typhoon et le Su-35 russe font aussi partie des prétendants. Dans une flotte composée uniquement d'avions américains, Boeing offre l'avantage d'une intégration facile, mais le Rafale, développé plus récemment, semble plus apte à évoluer dans le futur. La lutte s'annonce donc serrée, et les transferts technologiques proposés par chaque compagnie seront décisifs. Ainsi Boeing propose d'offrir, en accord avec le congrès américain, le missile de précision SLAM-ER, alors que Rafale, de son côté, propose la technologie pour construire le missile longue portée SCALP. L'avionneur français présente aussi un programme de transfert de technologie beaucoup plus large qui pourrait aboutir a la production partielle de l'avion en Corée. Il faut souligner que les décideurs doivent faire face à des pressions importantes de la part des Américains qui ne veulent pas perdre leur monopole sur l'équipement militaire coréen. Ainsi, lors d'une récente visite de reporters Coréens dans la base américaine d'Hawaii, un officiel américain a déclaré que le choix d'une avion européen serait problématique pour la coopération militaire entre la Corée et les Etats-Unis. Source : bulletin électronique de la Corée - novembre 2001
- FURTHER DELAY URGED FOR 'F-X'
An opposition lawmaker yesterday urged the Kim Dae-jung government to leave the multibillion-dollar next-generation fighter procurement project to the next administration.
"The Kim government is in a hurry to select the winning bidder for the fighter project, code-named 'F-X,' next March in order to use it to amass campaign funds for next year's presidential election through illegal means," said Rep. Chung Hyung-keun of the Grand National Party.
"The Kim government allegedly supports Dassault Aviation, to receive a rebate from the French maker of the Rafale" Chung said at the National Assembly's Special Committee on Budget and Accounts.
The lawmaker demanded that the fighter project be handed over to the next government. He said the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) project of Lockheed Martin is less expensive and more technologically advanced. Source : Korea Herald 2001.11.28
- BLAIR TO MAKE PITCH FOR EUROFIGHTER , By Oh Young-jin Korea Times Correspondent
LONDON _ Britain will ask Korea to positively consider buying Eurofighter for its $3.1 billion next-generation fighter acquisition program during the two countries' summit Tuesday, sources said.
``I understand that BAE Systems, Britain-based leading defense contractor, is consulting with its government to further Seoul's understanding of it during the summit between President Kim Dae-jung and British Prime Minister Tony Blair,'' a source said on condition of anonymity.
The source said that Britain would not make too conspicuous a pitch for its ware, adding that Eurofighter would not be on the summit agenda.
He said that Blair would most likely not utter the word, ``Eurofighter,'' during the summit, using a more subtle approach than the United States in the fierce battle for the lucrative military contract.
Kim and Blair are scheduled to hold a one-on-one meeting and an expanded summit session an hour, which will be followed by a 75-minute luncheon, Chong Wa Dae officials said.
Four countries are vying for Korea's fighter acquisition program. The four are F-15 Eagle of the United States; Rafale of French Dassault Aviation; Eurofighter of the four-nation European consortium and Russia's Sukhoi-35.
The Eurofighter-making consortium is composed of British's BAE Systems and companies from Spain, Italy and Germany.
Industry watchers and Korean government officials say that F-15 and Rafale are the two leading candidates. On almost all available occasions, the United States has been strongly pitching for F-15, a tactic that has triggered a backlash by the Korean media.
The Korean government has postponed its decision repeatedly with its latest deadline being the end of March, next year.
email@example.com - Source : Korea Times 2001/12/03
- RECENTLY DEPLOYED U.S. F-15 FIGHTERS RETURN HOME TO ALASKA THIS WEEK
The U.S. military will return its fighter jets, which were additionally deployed in South Korea in October amid its war on terrorism, to their home base in Alaska this week, U.S. officials said yesterday.
The United States deployed an Air Force battalion and an unspecified number of F-15 fighter jets to the nation after the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier left the Pacific region to support Washington's anti-terrorism campaign.
The F-15 fighters were stationed at a military base in the mid-southern parts of the nation to fill in the vacuum left by the Kitty Hawk's departure.
The aircraft carrier, which has since operated in the Indian Ocean, will return to its home base in Yokosuka, Japan, before Christmas, officials of U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) said.
The additional deployment of the U.S. Air Force unit drew harsh criticism from North Korea, which labeled it a move to raise tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
(firstname.lastname@example.org - By Hwang Jang-jin Staff reporter - Source : Korea Herald 2001.12.20
- SOUTH KOREAN MISSILE SYSTEM 'USELESS'
A leaked secret review of South Korea's Nike anti-aircraft missile system has found 90% of the weapons are almost useless.
The report came out of a series of tests held since a missile accidentally blew up over Inchon three years ago, injuring several people.
Correspondents say South Korea sees its missile system as a key deterrent against possible air attack from North Korea, and these disclosures will bolster the military's case for an expensive new programme.
South Korea is seeking to replace the 40-year-old Nike system with Patriot missles made by the same company, Raytheon. But arguments continue over the $1.6bn cost. Source : From the newsroom of the BBC World Service - 21/12/2001
- UN NOUVEAU CADRE REGLEMENTAIRE POUR LES CONGLOMERATS
Mettant un terme à un mois de querelles et de débats, le gouvernement et le Millenium Democratic Party (MDP, parti démocratique du Millenium) sont parvenus à un accord, le 15 novembre, en vue de la révision du cadre réglementaire qui régit actuellement l'activité des grands conglomérats. Conformément à la nouvelle réglementation, les conglomérats dont l'actif total est supérieur à cinq mille milliards de wons (3,9 milliards de dollars) répondront à la dénomination de "grands groupes industriels" et seront soumis à un ensemble de règlements portant notamment sur leurs prises de participations dans le capital d'autres sociétés. L'actif n'entrait pas jusqu'alors à proprement parler dans les critères de définition de tels groupes, la Commission de la concurrence (FTC) se contentant d'appliquer sa réglementation aux trente sociétés les plus importantes qu'elle a répertoriées.
Selon les conglomérats, ces dispositions attaquent la propriété privée
Les responsables de cet organisme affirment par ailleurs que le nouveau dispositif qui est à l'étude étendra ces mêmes règlements aux grandes sociétés nationales dont l'actif est égal au montant de celles du secteur privé. Une décision qui semble raisonnable au vu de la structure concurrentielle de certains secteurs, notamment celui des télécommunications, où les entreprises nationales se trouvent en concurrence directe avec des sociétés privées. Selon le nouveau critère gouvernemental, le nombre de grands groupes industriels passera de trente à dix-sept, la FTC précisant toutefois que seront exclues de cette nouvelle liste les groupes qui présentent un taux d'endettement inférieur à 100 % et une gestion rigoureuse.
Tel sera le cas des groupes Pohang Iron and Steel Co. (POSCO) et Lotte qui, malgré leurs actifs supérieurs à la limite spécifiée, ne seront pas répertoriés dans la mesure où leurs taux d'endettement s'élèvent respectivement à 88,38 % et 75,54 %. La FTC a par ailleurs fait savoir que le nouveau cadre réglementaire permettrait aux sociétés affiliées des grands groupes industriels de prendre des participations dans d'autres entreprises pour un montant supérieur à 25 % de leur actif net, les droits de vote attachés à l'excédent de participation étant toutefois sujet à limitation. La réglementation prévoit une restriction des droits de vote de sept groupes industriels qui comprennent des entreprises nationales parmi leurs sociétés affiliées. Les conglomérats s'élèvent pour leur part contre ces mesures restrictives, alléguant qu'elles constituent une atteinte à la propriété privée.
Une adoption suspendue à la décision du parti d'opposition
Prévue approximativement pour le mois d'avril prochain, l'entrée en vigueur de la nouvelle réglementation sur les grands groupes industriels est toutefois subordonnée à l'issue d'une consultation du parti d'opposition, le Grand National Party (GNP, le grand parti national), dont on ignore s'il entérinera cette nouvelle initiative gouvernementale. Cette dernière constitue une mesure d'incitation à l'investissement par laquelle les pouvoirs publics cherchent à favoriser une reprise de l'économie nationale. Dans une conjoncture confrontée à des risques de baisse d'activité, les grandes sociétés réclament, avec l'appui de responsables gouvernementaux, un allégement de leurs charges en vue d'une relance de l'investissement. Les dirigeants de la FTC ont quant à eux fait savoir que la nouvelle réglementation n'était pas applicable aux investissements liés à l'activité principale ou à la reprise de sociétés nationales. Y font également exception les titres non cotés acquis dans le cadre de restructurations d'entreprises ainsi que les prises de participations dans des sociétés étrangères. Les nouvelles mesures évitent par ailleurs aux entreprises d'avoir à se départir de l'excédent de participations qu'elles détiennent au-delà de la limite de 25 %, soit approximativement 11 milliards de wons. En revanche, le gouvernement et le parti au pouvoir sont tombés d'accord sur la nécessité d'élargir aux groupes dont l'actif est supérieur à deux mille milliards de wons les deux contraintes qu'impose la réglementation par l'interdiction des participations croisées et de la garantie d'emprunt mutuelle entre sociétés affiliées. Des clauses qui ne s'appliquent à l'heure actuelle qu'aux trente plus grands groupes coréens et qui s'étendront aussi désormais aux sociétés nationales disposant d'un actif de plus de deux mille milliards de wons, ce qui portera à quarante-sept le nombre total de groupes concernés, soit respectivement trente-huit et neuf dans les secteurs public et privé.
Park Sang-soo - Source : Le Courrier de la Corée 2001.12.04
- TOP 4 GROUPS TO EXPAND INVESTMENTS IN 2002
Korea's four largest conglomerates are planning to slightly expand their aggregate investments to over 19 trillion won ($14.96 billion) next year, concentrating on research and development in anticipation of an economic upturn in the second half.
Amid conflicting forecasts of a recovery of the global economy, the Samsung, LG, SK and Hyundai Motor groups will freeze their facility investments in 2002 to this year's levels, stick to belt-tightening and accelerate profit-oriented restructuring, according to their planning officials.
But the top-four conglomerates are poised to increase expenditure for R&D activities, seeking to boost growth potential and secure advanced technologies prior to the advent of a global recovery, they said.
Samsung, which has decided to peg its overall investments to below-80 percent of its cash-asset reserves, expects its 2002 investments to remain unchanged in the 6 trillion won range. Notably, Samsung Electronics is planning to cut investments from 4.5 trillion won this year to 3 trillion won.
By contrast, Samsung will steadily increase R&D-related investments in semiconductor and other strategic areas, pumping 6 percent of Samsung Electronics' turnover into high-tech projects.
At the LG Group with an annual investment budget of 6.7 trillion won this year, LG Electronics is to raise R&D investments 22 percent to 1.7 trillion won next year, with digital display and next-generation mobile telecom absorbing more than half of the spending. LG Chemical will increase investments on secondary power cells and display materials to 120 billion won.
SK, adopting a similar specialization strategy, will keep its overall facility investments to this year's 4 trillion won, but expand R&D spending 25 percent to 500 billion won. SK's research investments will concentrate on bioengineering, new materials and mobile business.
Hyundai Motor Group is planning to spend 1.5 trillion won on facility expansion and R&D in 2002, striving to boost competitiveness in environment-friendly vehicles, in particular.
Contrary to the increases in investments, the leading conglomerates said they will continue to implement belt-tightening measures next year, attempting to further cut non-core costs and dispose of marginal operations. Samsung, for instance, will press unhealthy affiliates with a debt-to-equity ratio of over 100 percent to attain a ratio cut of over 10 percentage points, while LG will reinforce the financial health of its chemical and electronics holding companies.
Despite the belt-tightening, however, the top chaebol will shift to more aggressive marketing in strategic markets, like China and North America. In this regard, Hyundai Motor will finalize its plans to set up a car plant in the United States, while SK will further expand its operations in China. Source by : Korea Herald (2001. 11. 24)
- SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS LANCE UN NOUVEAU PROCEDE DE PRODUCTION DE PUCES ELECTRONIQUES
Le numéro un mondial des puces à mémoire, Samsung Electronics, a annoncé le 29 octobre dernier qu'il avait entrepris la production de puces électroniques obtenues à partir d'une galette de matériau semi-conducteur d'une épaisseur de 300 mm (12 pouces), une première mondiale que la société a réalisée dans le but de combattre le marasme que traverse actuellement ce secteur d'activité. "A Hwaseong, Samsung s'est dotée d'installations adaptées à la production de galettes de 300 mm et la production de série de mémoires vives SD RAM (synchronous dynamic random-access memory : mémoire dynamique synchronisée à accès sélectif) bimodes à 512 Mb, de mémoires Flash et de SRAM (static random-access memory : mémoire statique à lecture-écriture) a d'ores et déjà débuté", a annoncé lors d'une conférence de presse Hwang Chang-gyu, le président de la division puces à mémoire de la société. Par comparaison aux substrats classiques de 200 mm, les nouvelles plaquettes permettent, grâce à leur diamètre de 300 mm, de réaliser un accroissement de 250 % du rendement de production et les constructeurs du monde entier n'ont de cesse de faire leur entrée sur ce nouveau marché. Samsung déclare avoir récemment mis au point des procédés de contrôle adaptés aux galettes de 300 mm et achevé l'industrialisation de la fabrication de puces à partir de ces substrats, en vue de la production en série. Elle prévoit par ailleurs une évolution de la technologie 0,15 microns, qui passerait à 0,12 microns au cours du premier semestre 2002. En 1993, devançant la concurrence japonaise, la société avait développé des galettes semi-conductrices de 200 mm qui révolutionnèrent l'industrie coréenne des puces électroniques et allait dès 1995 se lancer dans l'étude de la technologie 300 mm.
Des répercussions négatives sur le secteur ?
A l'échelle mondiale, ce développement a toutefois fait craindre, entre-temps, des répercussions négatives sur un secteur où l'offre se trouve aujourd'hui excédentaire et la demande déclinante, dans la mesure ou la mise au point de cette technologie de fabrication ne manquera certainement pas d'accroître les rendements de production. Des inquiétudes que Samsung s'efforce de dissiper en affirmant que sa chaîne de production de Hwaseong se centrera désormais sur une production à forte valeur ajoutée, notamment de RAM Flash et SRAM DDR graphiques à 128 Mbit/s, tout en limitant celle des DRAM, qui lui occasionnent des pertes financières. Par le développement de ses galettes de nouvelle technologie, la société tente, avec l'acharnement du désespoir, de se tirer du marasme actuel en abaissant fortement ses coûts de production et en confortant son avance sur les concurrents qui font leurs premiers pas dans ce domaine. De fait, il est à prévoir qu'une stratégie d'un tel dynamisme portera un coup aux autres constructeurs, notamment Hynix Semiconductor Inc., société aujourd'hui aux prises avec des problèmes de trésorerie et un endettement croissant, sur fond de baisse mondiale de la demande en DRAM. Ses responsables affirment qu'en accélérant sa production, Samsung aggravera la situation d'un marché mondial des puces à semi-conducteurs d'ores et déjà arrivé à saturation. Du côté de Samsung, le président Hwang déclare que d'ici à 2005, la société ambitionne de ravir jusqu'à 30 % des parts de ce marché, ce qui représente un chiffre d'affaires de 20 milliards de dollars, sachant qu'en 2000 le constructeur détenait 17 % du marché. Ce dirigeant a par ailleurs précisé que la société, fondant ses espoirs sur les puces à forte valeur ajoutée, restait optimiste pour le quatrième trimestre.
Yang Sung-jin - Source : Le Courrier de la Corée 2001.11.20
- SAMSUNG EST DEVENU EN UN AN UN GEANT MONDIAL DES TERMINAUX MOBILES
Si cet article vous intéresse veuillez nous contacter - Source : Les Echos 27/11/2001
- HYNIX, MICRON MOVE CLOSER TO ALLIANCE
Hynix Semiconductor and Micron Technology completed their first round of negotiations for a strategic alliance, and informed sources said a deal is very near, at the latest by early next year.
Hynix officials said Micron representatives reviewed its plants in Ichon and Chongju and a separate party visited their processing facility in Eugene, Oregon.
Along with the review of production facilities, Hynix and Micron officials discussed the options for their strategic alliance, including the swapping of their stock for cross-ownership.
``We exchanged materials on our finances and operational details so that we can proceed with firmer discussions on our strategic alliance,'' one Hynix official said, adding that another round of talks is expected before Christmas.
``We anticipate that we will be able to sign an agreement early next year after we further discuss the options we have, including the swapping of our stock,'' he said.
According to sources close to Hynix, one of the differences between the two negotiating parties was the extent of Micron's ownership in Hynix since the former reportedly asked for a controlling stake.
``Hynix is believed to have proposed giving up 15 percent of its ownership for a portion of Micron but Micron apparently wanted considerably more than that,'' the source said.
In addition to the swapping of their stocks, the two companies also discussed the possibility of Micron taking over the Eugene plant as well as collaborating on cutting production.
``We believe that we will be able to reach an agreement that is wide- reaching, involving all options that we have discussed rather than choosing just one of them,'' the Hynix official said.
He said there is a basic agreement that some type of stock swap would be in the best interest of both companies but the scope of such an exchange will also depend on other aspects of the strategic alliance.
``We have to take into consideration public sentiment concerning a foreign company taking over a majority stake in a major domestic firm. For the moment, we can only propose giving up 15 percent of the 50 percent that our creditors currently own,'' the official explained.
The negotiations between the two companies, which happen to be the world's second and third largest memory device makers, began early last week with the arrival of Micron's negotiating party in Seoul. Previously, there were unconfirmed reports that the two companies were in negotiations for a merger and Hynix President Park Chong-sup met with the press Monday to say that talks had begun. The collaboration, which could also be in the form of a merger, will create by far the largest producer of dynamic random access memory chips with a global market share of around 40 percent, making a minor player out of Samsung Electronics which held 22 percent in 2000. The strategic alliance, by all accounts, is crucial to the normalization of the financially burdened Korean chipmaker, which had to be rescued repeatedly by its creditors.
In addition to stabilizing the memory device market, Hynix will be able to more comfortably conduct business in the United States which takes in 30 percent of all production. Micron, the world's second largest maker of memory chips, has been the culprit behind numerous anti-dumping investigations into Korean chipmakers by the U.S. authorities in previous years. Source by: Korea Times (2001.12.10)
- RATTRAPE PAR SES CREANCIERS, DAEWOO MOTORS DOIT REDUIRE SA PRODUCTION
Si cet article vous intéresse veuillez nous contacter - Source : La Tribune 18/12/2001
- BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES FOR KOREAN VENTURE COMPANIES STILL GREAT
Domestic venture companies, once spotlighted as a new hope for the Korean economy, have been mired in deep recession for one and a half years. Leading venture companies are suffering from poor profitability, while many other venture companies are on the edge of bankruptcy. Reflecting this situation, the venture index of the KOSDAQ market, which had rocketed up more than eightfold at its peak in March of 2000, has fallen by about 85 percent as of October, 2001.
As major venture companies' share prices have plummeted, fund raising activities have become contracted. For example, fund raising by venture companies through IPOs or new stock issuance plunged by 69.4 % year on year during the first nine months of the year. Also, investment by venture capital firms was down 68.1 % during the first half of 2001, marking 449.5 billion won.
This all-round venture recession is partly the result of the bursting of the phenomenal venture bubble that had formed in 1999 and 2000, when excessive funds flowed into ventures businesses due to so-called "Spray & Pray" tactics of investors. The revelation of a number of venture-related financial and political scandals since the second half of 2000 also caused venture companies to lose credibility with investors.
But despite the current miserable state of domestic venture companies, there are some positive indicators. These days, as new markets and technologies are emerging, the venture industry seem poised for another takeoff. In addition, this downturn has been a good opportunity for venture companies to seek truly profitable and secure business models. Furthermore, many venture companies are strengthening cooperation amongst themselves to reduce risks and increase business opportunities.
Struggle for survival
Transformation of business models: In regards to venture companies' self-rescue efforts, they have been adopting new business models that focus completely on profitability. In the case of some of these dotcom companies, they have expanded their business areas to other highly-profitable fields, such as entertainment, with some of them even changing their names to escape from their existing corporate brand images. Along these lines, many venture companies have also been relying on strategic alliances and M&As to create synergy effects or to expand their business areas.
Development of competitive technologies: Another successful tactic for some venture firms has been their sole focus on development of competitive technologies. For example, the technological superiority of Ginitech, a manufacturer of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, has become internationally well known, enabling the company to earn royalty income in the global market.
While some of these venture companies, which focus only on development of technologies, tend to be weak in their ability to commercialize or market their proprietary technologies, they are overcoming such difficulties through outsourcing to large companies or marketing professionals.
Efforts to capture foreign business: Advancement into overseas markets has also been an effective breakthrough technique for many venture firms. As part of their preparation to enter overseas markets, they have begun to set up overseas operations and to form alliances with foreign companies, in order to increase their chances for success. And such efforts seem to have born fruit. Indeed, while the nation's total export exhibits a downward trend this year, export by venture companies continues to grow by over 10 percent, with China becoming an especially large market for domestic venture companies.
Cooperation between venture companies: In addition to internal reform, strengthened cooperation among venture companies has provided a win-win strategy through synergy effects. For instance, some communities of venture companies have developed for purposes of sharing technologies and R&D staff. Human networks formed among CEOs of venture firms also appear to be of large help in enhancing cooperation among those firms. The best example could be the "Daeduck Bio Community" where 15 venture companies with some 250 employees (50 Ph.Ds) are located in one place and share R&D staff, production facilities, business information, and marketing networks. The only things they do not share are financing and strategic planning activities
The ultimate result of such cooperative efforts has been the establishment of local venture "clusters" collections of venture companies and other related firms based on integrated networks. Daeduck Valley, a local venture cluster located in Daejeon City, is a famous case in point. It has now emerged as the center of a healthy community of techno-venture companies, in contrast to the still reeling, dotcom-laden, Teheran Valley in Seoul.
Partnership with large companies: Recently, large companies have also been contributing to the venture industry's reform. Previously, they had entered the venture industry through establishment of in-house ventures, spin-offs or venture capital firms. These days, however, they have turned to strengthening their relationships with independent venture companies that are developing promising technologies or products. For example, Samsung Electronics, the largest company in South Korea in terms of market capitalization, is in the process of making strategic alliances with 13 venture companies to design system LSI (large scale integration) related non-memory chips. The firm has even invested one billion won into each of those 13 companies.
Venture capital firms focusing on nurturing: For their part, venture capital firms experiencing hardship are trying to overcome the current slump by various measures like restructuring and fund raising. While they had concentrated their past efforts on funding venture companies based on "rule of thumb" valuation methods or "acquaintances" they are now evaluating venture companies on sophisticated criteria. Even after investing in a firm, they are taking additional measures to nurture the firm, such as providing consultation on business strategy.
Self efforts to improve image: Last but not least, there have been attempts by first-generation entrepreneurs to improve the scandal-ridden image of the venture industry. For example, Chung Moon-soul, former CEO of Mirae Corporation, donated personal assets worth 30 billion won to the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), a state-owned technology-oriented school, after he retired from his business in January 2001.
As mentioned before, many domestic venture companies are reeling and even dying. But an equal number of them are still struggling to survive and prosper. The venture boom, or bubble, that lasted up to first quarter of 2000 was much nourished by the overly generous policies of the Korean government, which had seen nurturing venture firms as a way to breakthrough the economic hardships caused by the currency crisis. Those support policies led to the creation of many noncompetitive venture companies, including even "pseudo" venture firms.
In this sense, the sweet period for the venture industry that ended last year can be seen as "abnormal", while its current state can be seen as "normal", and even "healthy". So the real, and sound, future of the industry is only just beginning. As a result of the current endeavors of many venture companies, there will soon emerge a new breed of strong and successful firms that will constitute a significant portion of the nation's economy.
Moreover, domestic venture companies do have one significant benefit that the venture companies of other countries do not: The nation is equipped with a superior IT infrastructure, which includes a high-speed communications network, to encourage the growth of the IT industry and to stimulate other industries' "technologization".
Consequently, there are great business opportunities for many venture companies involved in building networks, ISPs (Internet service provider), data centers, system development and network equipment. This point is important since a majority of domestic venture firms have been directly or indirectly involved in these areas already. This should prove to be a telling advantage in the future.
The writer is a researcher of Samsung Economic Research Institute - Ed.
By Park Yong-gyu - Source : Korea Herald (2001. 11. 26)
- LAFARGE CREE UNE JOINT-VENTURE EN COREE
Le groupe français de matériaux de construction Lafarge a annoncé hier un nouveau développement en Corée, via la création d'une joint-venture avec le deuxième cimentier coréen moyennant un investissement direct de 40 millions de dollars. La joint-venture réalisé avec TongYang Major Corporation et la filiale coréenne de Lafarge, Halla Cement, va permettre de créer une société nouvelle, baptisée " Tong Yang Cement Corporation ". Halla Cement en détiendra 25% à travers un investissement de 100 millions de dollars et TongYang Major Corporation 75% à travers un apport en nature et un transfert de technologie. Le groupe Lafarge détient 40% de Halla Cement. La nouvelle société a une capacité de production annuelle de 11 millions de tonnes de ciment et possède une usine de production. Source : Les Echos 29/11/2001
- LAFARGE : JOINT-VENTURE EN COREE
Lafarge a annoncé un accord de joint-venture avec Tong Yang Major Corporation, un cimentier basé en Corée. La nouvelle société créée s'appelle : Tong Yang Cement Corporation Co., Ltd.
Au terme de cet accord de joint-venture, un partenaire coréen de Lafarge détiendra 25% du capital, à travers un investissement de 100 millions de dollars US, et Tong Yang Major Corporation détiendra 75% du capital du fait de son apport en nature et du transfert d'activités. Puisque Lafarge détient 40% du capital de son partenaire coréen, sa contribution est de 40 millions de dollars US.
La nouvelle société a une capacité de production annuelle de 11 millions de tonnes de ciment et possède une usine. Cette alliance stratégique permettra une collaboration dans tous les domaines de l'activité cimentière, y compris les ventes à l'exportation et sur le territoire national, la production, le développement des carrières, etc.
Selon Bertrand Collomb, Président directeur général de Lafarge : "Cet investissement accroît la présence de Lafarge sur un marché coréen prometteur. Avec un montant investi limité et les synergies attendues entre notre partenaire coréen et Tong Yang Cement Co., Ltd, il s'agit d'un investissement attractif".
Créé en 1957, Tong Yang Major Corporation est le plus ancien et le deuxième producteur de ciment de la Corée. Il exploite des sites de ciment et de produits à base de ciment dans l'ensemble du territoire. Tong Yang Major Corporation est également engagé dans des activités de construction, de négoce international et de services financiers.
Outre sa participation mentionnée ci-dessus dans le ciment, Lafarge est le leader du marché des plaques de plâtres en Corée avec des usines à Yosu et Ulsan.
Lafarge est le leader mondial des matériaux de construction, Lafarge emploie 85 000 personnes dans 75 pays. Lafarge est le leader mondial dans le Ciment et occupe des positions de premier plan dans chacune de ses trois autres Branches : Granulats & Béton, Toiture et Plâtre. En 2000, Lafarge a réalisé un chiffre d'affaires de 12,2 milliards d'euros. Source : Lafarge - 28/11/2001
- SOCIÉTÉ GÉNÉRALE : NOMINATION DE MICHEL MACAGNO COMME DIRECTEUR GENERAL DE LA BANQUE DE FINANCEMENT ET D'INVESTISSEMENT POUR LA REGION ASIE PACIFIQUE
Michel MACAGNO est nommé Directeur Général de SG, la banque de financement et d'investissement du Groupe Société Générale, pour la région Asie Pacifique.
Né en juillet 1958, Michel Macagno est diplômé de l'Ecole Polytechnique. En 1980, il rejoint la Société Générale en tant qu' Attaché de Direction pour la Clientèle Commerciale. En 1984, il intègre la division Financement de Projets en tant qu' Attaché de Direction.
En 1986, Michel Macagno est nommé Directeur Général Adjoint pour SG en Asie Emergente basé à Hong Kong. En 1991, il rejoint SG Londres en tant que Responsable des Financements Structurés.
En 1994, il est nommé à Paris en tant que Directeur Général Adjoint Financement du Négoce et des Matières Premières, puis Directeur Général de cette division en 1996.
En 1998, Michel Macagno rejoint SG Australie en tant que Directeur Général, responsable du métier Dette et Finance pour l'Australie et Membre du Comité Exécutif Global Dette et Finance.
Société Générale Groupe
La Société Générale est une des banques les plus importantes de la zone euro. Avec 80 000 personnes dans le monde, son activité se concentre sur trois grands pôles :- la banque de détail qui compte 12 millions de clients en France et à l'international. - la gestion d'actifs. Le Groupe est n°3 bancaire de la zone euro par le montant des actifs gérés. - la banque de financement et d'investissement SG, n°4 de la zone euro de par son produit net bancaire.
La Société Générale est la seule banque française à figurer dans les quatre principaux indices internationaux de développement durable.
SG est le pôle de banque de financement et d'investissement du Groupe Société Générale. Présent dans plus de 50 pays et avec une expertise dans les marchés de capitaux, du conseil et de l'origination, du financement structuré et de la banque commerciale, SG développe des solutions financières innovantes et intégrées pour le compte de ses clients, entreprises, institutionnels et intervenants du secteur public.Société Générale Jérôme FOURRE Tél 33 1 42 14 25 00 Joëlle ROSELLO, Tél 33 1 42 14 58 39 COMM/PRS Tour Société Générale 92972 Paris - La Défense Cedex France Fax 33 1 42 14 28 98 Web : http://www.sg-ib.com Source : Société Générale
- RENAULT BOOSTING INVESTMENTS AT SAMSUNG
Renault has confirmed that an additional $155 million is to be invested in the Renault Samsung Motor operation in South Korea during 2002. Renault owns 70.1% of Samsung, and has seen output at the once beleaguered plant rise from 6,362 in 1999, to 28,787 in 2000 and an expected 63,500 in full year 2001 (55,615 were built in the first ten months of the year). The new investment will be intended to raise production closer to the 120,000 pa capacity level at the plant. Source : waitnews.com 19/12/2001