LA LETTRE DE CORÉE Avril 2003 Centre Coréen du Commerce Extérieur et des Investissements
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The European Union's Chamber of Commerce in Korea (EUCCK) is in talks with North Korea aimed at establishing a business and information exchange center in Pyongyang to help European companies do business in the communist country, an EUCCK official said yesterday.

The envisioned business center, which may open sometime this year at the earliest, will provide advice on renting office space, visas and other regular consulting activities as well as in-depth studies and various logistical assistance to help companies establish themselves in the North, said Joseph Day, chairman of the EUCCK's Pharmaceuticals Committee. Day was speaking on behalf of EUCCK Secretary General Jean Jacques before a conference on EU-North Korea relations held at the Westin Chosun Hotel in Seoul. The center will also serve as a one-stop patent and trademarks registration office for European companies wishing to protect their brands and expertise in the North, he said. Meanwhile, Percy Westerlund, the European Commission's external relations director in charge of Korea, reaffirmed at the conference the EU's support for Seoul's continuing efforts to engage the North despite the nuclear situation. ``We wholeheartedly support President Roh Moo-hyun's efforts to sustain inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation even in these difficult times,¡¯¡¯ he said.

South Korea¡¯s Vice Foreign Affairs Minister Kim Jae-sup also delivered a keynote speech at the conference, thanking the EU for its support in reducing tension and securing peace on the Korean peninsula. Sourece : Korea Times - 27/03/03


SOUTH KOREA got top marks for dealing with the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, way ahead of other countries in the region. By quickly overhauling its banking and corporate sectors, it brought its debt ratios and interest rates down to acceptable levels, encouraged huge inflows of foreign investment, and restored growth and confidence. It even started tackling the monolithic chaebol.

Yet even as Mr Roh took office, prosecutors and regulators took aim at the chaebol's accounting and financial practices, starting with the arrest of ten senior managers from the SK group for overstating profits in the group's trading subsidiary by $1.2 billion. The Fair Trade Commission followed up by launching probes into Samsung and LG, as well as all three chunks of the former Hyundai empire, which after the death in 2001 of the founder, Chung Ju-yung, was divided up among his three sons. With the stockmarket already reeling for other reasons, these announcements have rattled investors, who have begun to wonder whether the economic reforms were really as impressive as they seemed.

Instead, they should be pleased that the authorities are now probing the chaebol's financial dealings. If done thoughtfully, and in combination with other measures that Mr Roh and his team have pledged, this should lead on to the next stage of corporate reform. Whereas the first stage forced companies to change the way they think about debt, which had useful knock-on effects on their corporate strategies, the second stage should aim to achieve a similar conversion in their attitude towards shareholders.

The families that built the chaebol used their control over a wide range of firms to move capital and other resources around freely. The government helped by keeping control over the banks and pressing them to supply favoured business groups with capital-which South Korea, with its high growth and savings rates, was accumulating rapidly. The system allowed the chaebol to place huge bets in capital-intensive industries such as petrochemicals, steel, shipbuilding, cars and semiconductors without worrying too much about the risk. This enabled the country to build an industrial economy in short order.

But sooner or later, the system was bound to unravel. Once the chaebol had formed these political and financial connections, they found it easy to keep expanding by piling new debts on top of the old. By the time Thailand's currency collapsed in July 1997, Korean corporations were buried in debt, much of it short-term, that they could not reasonably hope to repay at a time when the neighbours were in deep trouble and exports were heading for collapse. The financial system began to come apart.

-Round one

In early December 1997, shortly before Kim Dae-jung won the presidency, South Korea signed a deal with the IMF for $57 billion of assistance. The government quickly nationalised and overhauled many banks. It kept some, sold others off again and got the bankers to revamp their lending practices. One effect of this was to encourage new sectors to flourish: with the chaebol no longer dominating access to South Korea's huge pool of savings, credit began to flow to small- and medium-sized firms, as well as into credit cards and other consumer loans. The other main effect was to put pressure on the chaebol to shape up. Mr Kim's government also drew up new rules to force the chaebol to face their problems head on, unlike companies in, say, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Regulators insisted that business groups reduce their debts to no more than twice their equity. They also barred fellow group members from buying shares in each other to boost their balance sheets, or from cross-guaranteeing each other's debts. The government-run Korea Asset Management Corporation took troubled loans off the banks' books and banged on the conglomerates' doors to collect the money. KAMCO has since attained rock-star status in the buttoned-down world of multilateral assistance, taking its act on the road to show other emerging economies how to deal with banking crises.

All this has dramatically changed the business landscape. Daewoo, which before the Asian financial crisis had been one of the top five chaebol, went bust, and its founder, Kim Woo-choong, fled to France. Another of the five, Hyundai, sold off its electronics business and divided the rest of its companies into three groups. Half of the top 30 chaebol in 1996 have gone bust and been broken up, and the others have narrowed their focus, reorganised and shored up their balance sheets.

In slimming down their empires, the conglomerates also encouraged a sharp increase in foreign direct investment-a big change from the years before the crisis, when South Korea had one of the lowest rates of inward FDI in Asia. Some of the restructuring deals-usually those involving the government or already bankrupt firms-made big headlines; for example, the government took a while to sell stakes in a couple of banks, and America's General Motors had to go through 18 months of talks and protests from Korean workers before sealing its purchase of Daewoo Motor last year.

But many other deals were struck quickly and quietly. The conglomerates' founders sold entire companies and gave up controlling stakes in others to slim their empires and pay debt. Moreover, although the chaebol had clearly overborrowed, they had managed to put at least some of those loans into research, product development and advanced equipment. That gave them an advantage over conglomerates elsewhere in Asia, which had wasted many of their borrowed billions on empty office blocks and golf courses. This, combined with a willingness to bite the bullet quickly, gave them a decent price for some of the corporate jewels they sold. It also allowed them to keep some technological gems.

-Industrial strength

One example of a corporate transformation is the LG (formerly Lucky Goldstar) group, which is controlled by the Koo and Hur families. LG had struck joint ventures with foreign firms long before the 1997 crisis, for example teaming up with America's Caltex in 1967 in a deal that gave LG access to new technology and granted the foreign firm easy entry to South Korea's oil-refining sector. After the 1997 collapse LG increased the pace, creating several joint ventures to raise cash and concentrate its business. This included a deal with Philips, a Dutch electronics firm, which invested $1.6 billion in a 50-50 joint venture to make advanced liquid-crystal-display monitors. The LG group, which had been making these on its own, contributed much of the new venture's advanced technologies, in sharp contrast with the Caltex venture three decades earlier.

Similarly, Sweden's Volvo was impressed by the level of technology at Samsung's construction-equipment business, and bought the company for $572m in 1998. Samsung had been operating in this field since the 1970s. In the beginning it used strategic alliances with Japanese firms, which were attracted by South Korea's lower wages. Eventually those alliances no longer worked because Samsung became too much of a technological competitor to the Japanese, so Samsung began pushing ahead on its own. In the 1990s it developed a world-class line of excavation equipment. It invested heavily in hydraulics research, got better at using computers to predict how safely and consistently the machines would handle different tasks, and ploughed money into sophisticated machine tools with which to build them.

About the only thing Samsung did not do was to sell its excavators for a profit. Enter Volvo, which was itching to offer Samsung's advanced 12-model product line to its clients. Volvo left Samsung's technology largely intact, but took some time to refit the machines to make them more environmentally friendly and improve their ergonomics. It then began selling them through its global distribution channel, which included a network of skilled dealers with advanced diagnostic tools and an efficient supply chain for spare parts, so customers could be confident that any breakdowns would be fixed quickly.

If the remaining chaebol are to earn healthy profits from the businesses they have kept, they must do more than invest in R&D (though some of the research they are doing remains encouraging). With an eye to the Volvo-Samsung example, they must also learn how to handle global branding and marketing as well as their western counterparts do.

Another company in the Samsung group offers a good example of how this can work. Samsung Electronics was already leading its Korean competitors before 1997. After the crisis, it launched a concerted drive to boost its global brand, consolidating its fragmented and highly decentralised marketing outfits, made up of 49 subsidiaries and more than 20 local operators. It also put more money and management effort into product design to make gadgets that people would notice.

Eric Kim, who handles the company's global branding, reckons that operating in a country with a young, technology-minded population has helped its design side. Samsung Electronics still earns most of its revenues from semiconductors and liquid-crystal displays, rather than the sort of hand-held devices for which firms such as Japan's Sony are known. But it is rising fast in these areas, and is already the world's third-biggest maker of mobile phones, behind Finland's Nokia and America's Motorola.

Samsung Electronics is only one of many Korean firms that have shifted towards design and marketing to improve their business prospects. Those firms' global advertising budgets have risen sharply, at a time when advertising spending in other countries is moribund. They have tried especially hard to strengthen their brands in mainland China, to which South Korean exports have risen by half in the past three years.

-Get set for round two

Until recently, therefore, the chaebol seemed to be making swift progress. Now, however, investors are worrying that the Roh government's round of investigations might reveal those gains as illusory. In fact, the chaebol's restructuring has been both real and effective. The reason they are coming under fire is not that they have failed to reform their businesses, but that their founding families continue to show disdain for the rule of law as well as for minority investors. If the economy is to reap lasting benefits from all that restructuring, the government must press ahead with further reforms in these areas.

Informed investors have long been aware of this, which is why shares in the chaebol's publicly listed subsidiaries continued to trade at huge discounts to standard measures of business performance. The regulators have known it too. When the restructuring began, they required equity stakes in subsidiaries to be limited to no more than 25% of any group company's net assets, with some exceptions, such as foreign joint ventures. The government hoped that this, combined with the rule banning subsidiaries from taking equity stakes in parents, would prod the families in charge of the chaebol to treat all of the firms in their group as genuine sources of operating profit, so they would run them like real companies.

Instead, some chaebol have continued to shuffle the profits from some of their publicly listed firms, trying to keep any gains out of the reach of both investors and the taxman. Minority shareholders cannot stop them because the families still own controlling interests in many publicly traded firms, even though their direct equity stakes are small. According to Jang Ha-sung, a finance professor at Yonsei University in Seoul, in 2001 the top ten chaebol families on average owned only 4.3% of the shares in their group companies, down from 9.5% in 1997. But, reckons Mr Jang, they actually controlled 47.6% of the shares in those firms, by exploiting chains of subsidiaries to buy more shares in the parent firms.

Fortunately for South Korea, civic groups have been catching some of the chaebol at their tricks. The two main watchdogs are the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy and its offspring, the Centre for Good Corporate Governance (CGCG). They have filed complaints with prosecutors and with the Fair Trade Commission against a range of companies, including Hyundai, LG and Samsung. Kim Joo-young, the CGCG's director (and a securities lawyer), says the complaint it filed against the SK group in December was not much different from those it had filed against others. He believes that the prosecutors were prodded into acting this time by criticism of their failure to act on earlier complaints.

The administration says it will do three things to make the chaebol clean up their act. First, it will close tax loopholes so that the owner-families cannot use dodgy business transactions to avoid gift and inheritance taxes. Second, it will allow small shareholders to launch lawsuits against firms that do deals against the minority's interests. And third, it will bar industrial companies from owning financial subsidiaries. The idea is to stop the companies from using life insurers, securities firms and investment trusts to favour shares in their own industrial firms.

This last one is a much bigger project than the other two. If Mr Roh wants to press ahead with it, he needs to do it pragmatically. The objective should be not to bash the chaebol but to subject them to greater scrutiny by informed and well-organised investors, as well as to protect the clients of financial-services firms.

Independent, and cleanly run, investment trusts and life insurers would have clearer incentives to earn returns commensurate with the risks they take. They would also be better able than dispersed shareholders to put pressure on poorly performing companies. Foreign investors, too, who now own 36% of the main stockmarket's equity by value, compared with 15% before the crisis, can play a useful role in this. And if there is to be a new social safety net, the pension managers must also do their bit.

Mr Roh says he wants openness, but does not want to move too fast to avoid upsetting the markets. Yet if done right, a second round of reforms would not only improve the prospects for South Korea's economy in the long run, it would also have the more immediate merit of reassuring jittery investors.

Source : The Economist - 17/04/03


Korea recorded $162.5 billion in exports last year, up 8 percent from the previous year and ranking them as the world's 12th largest exporter, statistics released by the World Trade Organization (WTO) showed.

Korea was the world's 13th largest exporter in 2001.

The United States maintained its top seat last year by exporting $693.5 billion; Germany with $612.2 billion; Japan with $416.0 billion; France with $329.5 billion and China with $325.6 billion won.

Trailing closely behind the top five were Britain with $275.9 billion; Canada with $252.5 billion; Italy with $252.0 billion; the Netherlands with $243.4 billion and Belgium with $213.2 billion.

Korea tailed behind Hong Kong, which posted $206.0 billion in exports, but surpassed Taiwan at $130.3 billion and Singapore at $125.6 billion.

As for imports, Korea was ranked the world's 14th biggest importer by receiving $152.1 billion from overseas, also up by 8 percent in value from the previous year.

The United States was again the largest importer with the aggregate figure reaching $1.203 trillion.

Following were Germany with $493.3 billion; Britain with $339.8 billion and Japan with $336.4 billion; France with $326.4 billion and China with $295.2 billion.

Other countries among the top 10 in imports were Italy with $241.1 billion; Canada with $227.6 billion; the Netherlands with $217.7 billion and Hong Kong with $208.6 billion.

All in all, the world's combined size of trade came to $6.42 trillion in terms of exports and $6.69 trillion in imports, each larger by 4 percent and 3 percent compared to 2001's. Source : Korea Herald - 25/04/03


The Economist magazine's latest Big Mac index showed that the Korean won is overvalued against many other emerging-market currencies.

"Many emerging-market currencies are undervalued against the dollar by 30-50 percent. One exception is the South Korean won, which is exactly at its purchasing power parity (PPP), implying that it is overvalued when compared other emerging-market currencies," said the British economic magazine in its April 24 edition.

The index, which compares hamburger prices in countries around the world, is used as a rough guide to currency valuations.

PPP says the exchange rate between two nations' currencies should move toward a value that makes the price of something (or a basket of things) the same in both countries. To put it simply, a dollar should buy the same basket of things everywhere.

For The Economist, the item under scrutiny is McDonald's Big Mac, produced locally to roughly the same recipe in 118 countries. Comparing the PPP for the Big Mac, with the actual exchange rate, is one test of whether a currency is undervalued or overvalued.

According to the Big Mac index, McDonald's charges the equivalent of $2.63 for its burger in Korea, which is slightly lower than the $2.71 price in the U.S. This implies that the purchasing power of the won is set at 1218 won to the dollar. At its current exchange rate of 1220 won (as of April 22), the Korean currency is just 2 percent undervalued against the dollar.

Not surprisingly, the index showed that the Chinese yuan is the world's most undervalued currency - a Big Mac costs the equivalent of $1.20 in China - while the most overvalued currency is the Swiss franc. In Switzerland, a Big Mac costs the equivalent of $4.52.

The index also suggests the dollar is no longer overvalued against the euro, but may continue to head lower as the U.S. current account deficit becomes harder to finance.

"Without stronger domestic demand in Japan and Europe to help trim the deficit, the dollar will have to take more of the strain," the magazine said.

The Economist admits that 'burgernomics' is inherently flawed: Big Macs aren't traded across borders as the PPP theory demands and prices are distorted by taxes, tariffs, different profit margins and other non-tradable factors such as rents.

But it notes that the Big Mac index was accurate in predicting the fall in the euro after its launch in 1999 as well as movements in several other currencies.

Academics also seem to be taking the Big Mac index more seriously. International Monetary Fund economist Li Lian Ong has even written a book on the index, in which she argues that the Big Mac Index could have been used to predict the Asian currency or Mexican peso crises where traditional economic models failed.

This year, the index predicts that the Australian dollar will see the biggest gains, the pound will fall further against the euro and China will come under increasing pressure to revalue the yuan.

( By Sim Sung-tae - Source : Korea Herald - 26/04/03


Les tensions avec la Corée du Nord et plusieurs scandales comptables pèsent sur l'attractivité du pays.

Les investissements directs étrangers représentent aujourd'hui 11 %du PIB.

Le président sud-coréen, Roh Moo-hyun, ne sait plus quoi faire pour rassurer les investisseurs étrangers présents dans son pays.

Le mois dernier, il a commencé son mandat en dépêchant à New York des hauts fonctionnaires au siège de l'agence de notation financière Moody's. Celle-ci avait abaissé de 2 crans, de "positive" à "négative", la perspective de l'économie sud-coréenne. La semaine dernière; Ie président Roh a invité 16 personnalités étrangères de la communauté d'affaires à la Maison-Bleue, l'équivalent local du palais de l'Elysée, pour leur assurer que " les difficultés économiques (seraient) résolues " et que le pays ne connaîtrait " ni la guerre ni le chaos ". Et mercredi, il a annoncé qu'il allait nommer des étrangers au sein de son panel de déréglementation de l'économie.

Aujourd'hui,, les investisseurs étrangers réfléchissent à deux fois avant de venir en Corée et leurs placements fléchissent depuis 2000, essentiellement pour deux raisons.

Attrait de Ia Chine. Premier souci les tensions diplomatiques avec la Corée du Nord, voisin intraitable qui menace périodiquement de faire de la péninsule " une mer de flammes ". Pyongyang hausse le ton depuis quelques semaines et chacune de ses bravades, reprise par la presse internationale, ne facilite pas la confiance. Ensuite, sur le front intérieur, de récents scandales comptables, dont celui du chaebol (conglomérat) SK, ont également assombri le climat. La Corée du Sud a aussi perdu beaucoup d'attrait à côté de la Chine où la main-d'oeuvre est, contrairement à celle de son voisin, bon marché et docile.

" Depuis quelque temps, nous sentons une menace. Mais cette menace vient d'un enchaînement de facteurs : la Corée du Nord nous provoque, ce qui fait fuir les investisseurs, ce qui fait chuter la Bourse.., c'est pour cela que le président Roh essaie de rassurer les investisseurs étrangers ", explique Kim Sung-han, de l'Institut des affaires étrangères et de la sécurité nationale.

La Corée du Sud doit beaucoup aux investisseurs étrangers. Ce sont en grande partie eux qui, après le krach de 1997, ont permis au pays de sortir de l'ornière. Ce sont eux qui, attirés par une opération séduction de l'ex-président Kim Dae-jung, ont insufflé de l'air dans une économie cartellisée, à coups de rachats (Daewoo Motor, Hynix, Korea Life...) et d'implantations (Carrefour...).

Dépendance. Avant la crise, l'investissement direct étranger représentait 2 % du PIB. Aujourd'hui, le ratio est de 11% ! L'économie sud-coréenne est beaucoup plus tournée vers l'étranger que celle du Japon, à laquelle on l'a souvent comparée la Corée du Sud exporte un tiers de son PIB (contre 10 % pour l'archipel).

Cela la rend aussi plus vulnérable. Le ministère de l'Economie et des Finances a ainsi annoncé hier qu'il s'attendait à une croissance de 4 % en rythme annuel au premier trimestre 2003, une progression toujours vigoureuse, mais en net retrait par rapport aux 6,8 % enregistrés pour les trois mois précédents. Les coupables les menaces nord-coréennes et... la guerre en Irak.

Régis Arnaud - Source : La Tribune - 28/03/03


Asia¡¯s three largest economies _ Japan, China and South Korea _ should make concerted efforts to promote peace and prosperity in the region, according to Finance-Economy Minister Kim Jin-pyo.

In an opening speech at the Northeast Asia Economic Forum in Seoul yesterday, Kim said the trio should be prepared to compete with two other powerful economic blocs, mainly the European Union and nations under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The two-day forum is designed to discuss such topics as prospects for Northeast Asia, the current health of the Korean economy, and regional security and prosperity.

``As a result of dynamic economic growth over the past 30 years, Northeast Asia has become the world¡¯s third major economic bloc,¡¯¡¯ he said, ``As China is now a member of the World Trade Organization, Northeast Asian nations are expected to deepen their cooperation and cement a business coalition.¡¯¡¯

The minister also expressed confidence that South Korea will emerge as a key player in joint activities despite the lingering challenges both at home and abroad.

The challenges include such external ones as delayed recovery of the global economy and the North Korean nuclear standoff, as well as internal ones like the unstable financial market, sluggish domestic demand, and current account deficit, according to the chief economic policymaker.

``To ride out such unfavorable circumstances, the Korean government is all-out to devise predictable and market-friendly economic policies, while phasing out bureaucratic inefficiencies,¡¯¡¯ Kim said.

The government has already announced its plan to increase fiscal spending by 10 trillion won during the first half of this year, compared to the same period last year.

``The capital will be employed to finance public infrastructure projects and bolster small- and medium-sized enterprises,¡¯¡¯ Kim said.

South Korea seeks to help companies expand investments by removing regulatory roadblocks such as environmental restrictions and land usage regulations.

The minister also pledged to ``clear the way for foreign investments through continued cooperation with economic players and local governments, while moving forward with reforms to realize a free, transparent market economy.¡¯¡¯

He made clear that the Korean government will take active measures to promote regional prosperity on the onset of the era of Northeast Asia.

``We will contribute to the recreation of a modern version of the ancient Silk Road that linked the East and the West,¡¯¡¯ he said, ``To this end, we plan to speed up the construction of the inter-Korean railway for its connection with Trans-Siberian railroads.¡¯¡¯

The connection of railroads would not only support efforts to turn Korea into a regional business hub, but also strengthen South-North reconciliation, Kim stressed.

South Korea is also enhancing the efficiency of its logistics networks by revamping related laws and digitalizing its logistics infrastructure, Kim added.

``In an effort to provide foreign investors with more convenient and business-friendly climate, we are pushing for the national projects of establishing free economic zones at Incheon International Airport and Pusan, Kwangyang ports,¡¯¡¯ he said.

The government plans to provide a variety of tax incentives to foreign corporate investors, and open the education and medical sectors to the world.

The minister also highlighted Korea¡¯s great potential to become a regional business hub.

``Korea is optimally located between Japan, the world¡¯s second-largest economy, and China, the most rapidly-growing economy, and serves as a bridge between the continent and the ocean,¡¯¡¯ he said.

In addition to the geographical advantages, Korea also boasts of creative and highly educated human resources, and the world-class information technology infrastructure, he added.

Stressing the importance of securing peace in Northeast Asia, Kim said that South Korea will try to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis through dialogue.

``We have been working closely with the United States, Japan, China and Russia to resolve the issue as quickly as possible,¡¯¡¯ he said, ``We will also accelerate cooperation with international organizations such as the European Union, International Atomic Energy Agency and United Nations.¡¯¡¯

The minister, who is concurrently serving as Deputy Prime Minister, plans to hold a series of road shows on the Korean economy in London and New York from April 10-16.

He will explain to foreign investors the direction of the Roh Moo-hyun administration¡¯s policies, and enhance foreign understanding of the current situations of the geopolitical tensions. Source : Korea Times - 08/04/03


Question: What type of customs incentives are available for foreign-invested companies?

Answer: Customs duties, special excise tax and VAT are exempted for capital goods used for businesses that are subject to a reduction of corporate and income tax if the FDI is conducted by the acquisition of newly issued stocks.

In order to receive exemption from customs duties, the import notification procedure according to the customs law has to be completed within three years from the day of FDI notification.

Three documents are required for import notification: a copy of a list of imported capital goods; a copy of an official document verifying the qualification for reduced corporate tax (i.e., an official letter of tax reduction); and a copy of a document verifying that the capital gods are imported as objects of investment (with documents verifying the price of the goods, such as a sales contract, attached).

The capital goods verification documents and attachments then have to be submitted to a foreign exchange bank or Korea Investment Service Center (KISC) prior to submitting all three required documents to the Customs Office. For further info please contact: Lim Gyeong-taeg at 02-3460-7561 or e-mail:

Q: Are wastewater disposal facilities mandatory?

A: In the following situations it is possible to utilize a wastewater disposal company to deal with wastewater disposal instead of establishing the necessary disposal facilities:

- Wastewater that can be processed through preventive disposal facilities operating on a physical or chemical basis and is less than 20m3 / day.

- Wastewater from within the business, which is of another composition so that it's disposal cannot be processed through the existing facilities and is less than 20m3 / day.

- Wastewater that needs to be discharged but is from a location that has no preventive disposal facilities.

- Wastewater that can be discharged at designated areas of the sea according to Article 16, paragraph 4 of the Sea Pollution Prevention Law.

- Boilers and other facilities necessary for production and manufacturing as well as wastewater from ships and other sea facilities as stipulated in Article 3, paragraph 2 of the Sea Pollution Prevention Law. However, wastewater that falls under Article 2, paragraph 4 of the Waste Control Law is an exception.

- Wastewater that is a result of improving and repairing preventive facilities, and is thus a temporary waste only during a period prior discussed and decided by the provincial governor.

For further info please contact: Park Byung-ryul at 02-3460-7567, or e-mail: Source : Korea herald - 09/04/03


The Korean government plans to completely liberalize its corporate overseas borrowing starting next year, as part of an effort to develop Korea into the business hub of Northeast Asia, a senior official at the Ministry of Finance and Economy said yesterday.

Kwon Tae-shin, director-general of the ministry's international finance bureau, said the government would scrap the state approval system for short-term foreign lending by local companies from 2004, five years ahead of schedule.

"Our financial markets are now mature enough that we can ease up restrictions on short-term overseas lending," Kwon said.

Currently, all companies must obtain government approval to borrow short-term overseas funds, except those with an above investment grade rating and a debt-to-equity ratio below the industry average.

Kwon also said that the government plans to lift the requirement for companies to report their overseas borrowing exceeding $30 million.

"It would be unfair to maintain such requirement after we completely liberalize corporate short-term borrowing," the official said.

Kwon also said earlier last week that the government plans to bring forward the market's opening to 9:00 a.m. from the current 9:30 a.m. starting next year, to minimize confusion stemming from trading-hour differences with stock and bond markets.

Interestingly, the government is also considering scrapping its noontime lunch hour, according to Kwon.

In mid-March, the finance ministry announced it plans to completely liberalize its foreign exchange market by 2007 - four years ahead of schedule - in a bid to turn Korea into a Northeast Asia business hub.

The liberalization plan includes scrapping all restrictions on foreign exchange trading except for "safeguard regulations," the ministry said in a report submitted to President Roh Moo-hyun.

Korea's daily foreign exchange trading volume hit $9.19 billion in 2002, slightly up from the $9.18 billion posted the year ago, according to the latest data by the Bank of Korea.

Source : Korea herald- 07/04/03


As of the end of March, the number of Internet users in Korea reached 24.73 million, or 67.4 percent of the population aged between 10 and 65, KoreanClick said yesterday.

In a joint telephone survey with RI Korea, online research firm KoreanClick said 67.4 percent of 10,000 respondents turned out to have logged on to the Internet at least once a month.

The statistics signals sign of a slowing growth in the Internet user growth rate that has been powered by the rapid proliferation of PC salons and broadband network services.

According to KoreanClick, the number of Internet users grew by about 600,000 per month in 2000 when the Internet boom was at its peak. But the growth figure slowed down to 160,000 in 2002.

"Given that the survey targets those aged between 10 and 65, the total number of Internet users in Korea is estimated at some 26 million," KoreanClick said.

The portion of female Internet users accounted for 44.6 percent, slightly up from 44.0 percent a year earlier. The company said 49.4 percent of homemakers surf the Web, up from 37.3 percent a year earlier.

The survey found respondents surfing the Internet for 14.4 hours per week, up 54 minutes from a year earlier. As for the purpose of the Web surfing, 88.2 percent said they go online to search information, followed by e-mail (79.2 percent), games (62.3 percent), movies and music (61.5 percent), news (53.8 percent) and Internet shopping (42.4 percent).

Instant messaging is also gaining popularity rapidly, with a number of corporations utilizing the new real-time communications tool. More than 42 percent of respondents said they routinely use instant messaging, up from 27.5 percent a year earlier. The share of MSN messenger was the biggest at 57.4 percent, while BuddyBuddy (31.1 percent), Daum (25.2 percent), SayClub (20.8 percent) and Dreamwiz Genie (17.8 percent) are trailing behind.

The mobile Internet usage rate stood at 12.9 percent. KoreanClick said 87.2 percent of mobile Internet users downloaded ring tones for their handsets, reaffirming its popularity compared with other wireless data service content.

But 86.8 percent of respondents said they have negative view about the mobile Internet, underscoring the problems facing the wireless industry in its push to jack up revenues from the new mobile data services.

Source : Korea Herald - 25/04/03


IN SOUTH KOREA, only old-fashioned eccentrics still access the internet by dialling up with a modem. In a country where youngsters do not so much browse the internet as speed-read it, a fast and fat pipeline for all sorts of virtual content is on offer to anyone who wants it, and most people do. By 2002, reckons Morgan Stanley, an investment bank, 68% of the nation's households were subscribing to a broadband internet service, compared with an estimated 15% in America and 8% in western Europe.

A young and tech-hungry population has helped, as has the government's keenness to promote the internet. But the main reason why the country has been easy to wire is that most of its people are urban flat-dwellers. Mitchell Kim, Morgan Stanley's telecoms analyst in Seoul, points out that around 70% of Korean households live in urban areas, and that 45% of them live in apartment blocks. That has enabled Korean telecoms firms to offer broadband services to over 90% of households within a few years, a world record.

In many of those households, however, young Koreans still live with their parents, and would rather go out with friends than surf the net at home. If they get tired of watching short films and music videos on their mobile phones while they are out and about, they can always visit one of the ubiquitous PC gaming rooms, which offer a broadband service and a comfortable chair to sit and plug in.

Indeed, many booths have two computers and two seats. These "love seats" make it easy to get an internet fix without being anti-social. Young couples can sit together while they play games against online opponents or gossip in internet chatrooms. But as Wired magazine has put it, the typical love seat is "not so much a porch swing as an internet-mediated bar stool". If a man takes a woman's fancy online, she is likely to ask where he is sitting, and if he is nearby she might saunter along and decide whether to sit down next to him.

Whether the user is at home, at work, in a broadband room or tapping away on a mobile-phone touchpad, the most popular online game these days is tearing down the political power structure. Internet news sites such as OhMyNews (which will take articles from anyone and post them after checking the facts) have changed the way Koreans process information. And a last-minute online push to get young voters to the polls is credited with tipping the balance for Mr Roh in last December's election. The trouble is that voters now have five years to wait for the next presidential poll. In hot-wired South Korea, that is a virtual eternity.

Source : The Economist - 17/04/03


Korea is now emerging as a test bed for new wireless Internet technologies as local fixed-line and mobile carriers forge partnerships with foreign firms to commercialize 2.3GHz-based wireless services.

The move comes as the Ministry of Information and Communication weighs various options to allocate 2.3GHz spectrum for commercial purposes.

Korea is already offering wireless LAN (local area network) services based on 2.4GHz. The existing wireless LAN services, also known as Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity), are limited in their coverage and mobility. Subscribers, for instance, cannot log on to the Web outside of wireless "hot spots" available in some public places, or AP (access points) that can be installed at home.

Korea has more than 32 million mobile users, many of whom can access simplified Web pages via cdma2000 1x and its upgrade version EV-DO (evolution-data optimized) networks. The transmission speed ranges between 144 Kbps and 2.4 Mpbs. Subscribers can either use their handsets or connect their phones to laptops or PDA devices to access the Internet.

Wireless Internet access through mobile phones, however, is quite expensive for ordinary users, although its coverage is usually unlimited.

The question is whether mobile carriers and broadband service operators will develop viable services that can replace third-generation mobile Internet and compete with existing wireless LAN services.

KT Corp. is now testing two U.S.-made systems for its new wireless broadband services. Late last month, it held a demonstration for "i-Burst," a product from U.S.-based Arraycomm. This month, it is scheduled to field test a system developed by Flarion, another U.S.-based wireless technology firm.

Flarion is promoting its flash-OFDM (orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing), a spread spectrum-based technology that uses OFDM - a technology first developed in the 1960s and 70s originally aimed at reducing the amount of cross-talk in signal transmissions through the use of digital modulation that splits a signal into several narrowband channels at different frequencies - now used principally as a wireless access method (airlink). The company claims that it is the first fully mobile OFDM airlink for wide area broadband networks.

KT, the country's largest broadband carrier, is planning to field test "Ripwave," which was first developed by Navini Networks, and "BroadAir," whose development was spearheaded by Broadstorm in the first half of this year.

Hanaro has already completed its field test of Arraycomm's "i-Burst" technology. The company also signed agreements with other firms like Flarion and Broadstorm for further field testing of solutions that can utilize the 2.3GHz spectrum. Hanaro said that it will test Flarion's flash-OFDM, as well as Broadstorm's OFDMA-TDD next month.

SK Telecom, the country's largest mobile carrier, is currently testing Flarion's flash-OFDM for 800MHz spectrum. SK Telecom said that it will test Flarion's technology for 2.3GHz if necessary.

The mobile giant is offering mobile Internet access based on cdma2000 1x EV-DO. But it is exploring other options including 2.3GHz spectrum.

The 2.3GHz spectrum, in fact, had been originally allocated for wireless local loop (WLL) service. WLL services, however, languished due to an inability to capture meaningful market share.

The government allocated the spectrum to KT and Hanaro in 1998, but neither company actively used the spectrum, which raised questions regarding the unused telecom resource. The information ministry decided to reconfigure the spectrum into a wireless Internet access service and is now drawing up plans to redistribute the spectrum to carriers.

Compared with other wireless Internet services, the 2.3GHz spectrum allows a wider coverage area, which is usually within three to five kilometers from base stations. The spectrum also supports a mobile environment (less than 30 kph) and has relatively cheaper subscription rates than wireless LAN and other competing 3G services, such as cdma2000 1x EV-DO and IMT-2000.

The 2.3 GHz technology, however, still has a long way to go, analysts have said, adding that it is a nascent technology with a slew of unresolved issues and obstacles standing between its current state and hopes of widespread implementation. ( By Yang Sung-jin

Source : Korea Times - 10/04/03


Au Japon, en Corée et aux Etats-Unis, des particuliers pourront faire leurs courses en utilisant leur téléphone portable doté d'une liaison infrarouge.

D'ici au mois de juin, trois mille Japonais n'auront plus besoin que de leur portable pour leurs achats. NTT DoCoMo (l'opérateur créateur de l' i-Mode ), Visa et trois réseaux de cartes de paiement vont, en effet, expérimenter un système permettant de régler la moindre facture en utilisant son combiné.

Pour participer à ce test, il faudra être en possession d'une carte Visa Nippon Shinpan et d'un téléphone compatible Java et doté d'une liaison infrarouge. L'utilisateur devra alors télécharger dans son portable une application Java contenant les détails de sa carte de paiement.

Dans le même temps, cinq cents commerçants seront équipés d'un terminal infrarouge. Pour réaliser un achat, il suffira alors de pointer son téléphone vers ce terminal, de sélectionner le produit de son choix sur l'écran du combiné et de confirmer.

Un essai similaire en Grande-Bretagne

Les promoteurs de cette expérience voient d'ailleurs dans le pointage un des grands intérêts de la manoeuvre : pas besoin de téléphoner de son portable pour payer, il suffit de le présenter devant le terminal. Le système ne fonctionne toutefois que si les commerçants acceptent de s'équiper d'un tel boîtier et que les utilisateurs se dotent de téléphones adaptés. Ce qui est le cas des possesseurs de 504i et 504iS, vendus à huit millions d'unités au Japon, selon NTT DoCoMo.

Chez Visa Europe, on affirme qu'aucun projet similaire n'est envisagé en Europe. Pourtant, un essai de paiement de proximité via infrarouge aura lieu d'ici peu en Grande-Bretagne avec Visa, mais sera mené par une société coréenne et non japonaise. Harex InfoTech teste en effet un tel système, depuis avril 2002, dans cent boutiques d'une ville de Corée. Étendue à une université californienne en février, cette expérience va aussi démarrer au Royaume-Uni, à Cambridge, d'ici à la fin de l'année.

Ludovic Nachury - Source : 01net. - 14/04/2003


Instead of your conventional deluxe hotel lobby, there is the ``living room. Instead of average chambermaids, you have ``stylists'' who style your room. And instead of your general manager in a grey suit and wingtips, you have Martin Jones in his black Banana Republic T-shirt.

``This is like nothing you have seen before. We add a twist to everything. We are building the first urban resort in Seoul,'' said Jones, the first general manager of W Seoul.

Starting out with a business card that has the ``W'' carved out at an outrageous price, the super-deluxe establishment, built for only the second time in Asia following one in Sydney, is redefining what is stylish, cosmopolitan and savvy.

Currently being built next to the Grande Sheraton Walkerhill in eastern Seoul, W Seoul will offer 200 curtain-flushed rooms _ the standard rooms are ``Wonderful Rooms'' in the W language _ and three very distinguishable food and beverage options.

``Confusion, which is derived from the term `contrary to fusion' will present a variety cuisine, including teppanyaki and sushi to Vietnamese and Chinese dishes. The food will be excellent,'' Martin said, sounding excited about a mystery chef that he will signing up soon.

If the name Confusion sounds confusing, it is not, just as the ``Woo Bar'' is not. It is simply a part of the unique image W has created for itself since it opened its first establishment in New York City in December 1998. By the end of this year, there will be 19 Ws, including one in Mexico City.

``Its `W' for warm, wonderful, wired and welcome. It is everything that an urban resort should offer and it is really just around the corner from downtown Seoul,'' the 41-year-old Australian hotelier said.

A vital part of W Seoul that qualifies it as an urban resort is a 5,000-square-meter spa called ``Away,'' which has everything from massage corners to hot spring pools.

``As you step into the hotel, you see the bar and the live DJ. It almost makes you want to reach out for a couple of martinis and relax. That is what W is all about,'' said Martin who is also the regional food and beverage director for Starwood, the international hotel chain that carries such familiar brands as Sheraton and Westin.

If the atmosphere and facility are the first qualifications for an urban resort, W Seoul is planted in the ideal location along the upper reaches of the Han River. ``From every room, you will be able to get a spectacular view of the Han River or the mountain, or both,'' Marti said.

``I see the location (being about half an hour from downtown Seoul) as a challenge but once the local clientele has the W experience, I am confident that people will keep coming back,'' Martin said.

The rooms are not cheap _ the average rate is estimated to be around $250 against the rack rate of $450 for the Wonderful Rooms _ but the food and beverage services will be much more affordable.

While Martin found it difficult to say what drinks will be priced at, it will be considerably lower than those at deluxe hotels in downtown and southern Seoul, providing another reason to make the short trip.

Source : Korea Times - 24/04/03


Tesco, the largest retail superstore operator in Britain, plans to expand the number of its stores in Korea from the current 23 to 32 by the end of this year, a visiting ranking British government official said Friday. At present, 168 British firms are operating in Korea, with Tesco to set up nine superstores more in Korea by the year-end. Stephen Brown, Chief Executive of the British Trade Council said while meeting reporters. Source : Yonhap News - 25/04/03


The Ministry of Science and Technology has recently drafted a plan to promote nanotechnology (NT) that includes forming a special committee under the presidential science and technology panel.

Ministry officials said the plan will come into effect in the latter half of the year.

The envisioned NT committee will be established under the National Science and Technology Council, the nation's top science policymaking body, which is headed by President Roh Moo-hyun.

Chaired by the vice science minister, the special committee will consist of 25 government officials and private experts.

The proposal also calls on the ministry to set up a long-term plan to develop NT every five years and present it to the committee.

NT is a branch of micro-science that deals with "nanometer," or one-billionth of a meter. Scientists say that the technology will open up a brand-new world for human life and industry.

Under the initiative, the science ministry will come up with strategies to amalgamate NT with other high-technology fields such as biotechnology (BT) and information technology (IT) in order to carve out innovative technology-related businesses.

The ministry will also establish an NT consultative group designed to work out policy proposals and promote research, officials said. The panel will include 30 experts from educational, industrial and research sectors. The science ministry will also inform other government branches of the status of NT research and development in Korea every year to help them establish and enforce related policies.

In addition, the ministry will issue forecasts of supply and demand for NT-related human resources every three years, while the ministry-affiliated institutions will conduct regular surveys on NT research equipments and facilities.

The science ministry said it will work with the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development and the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy to establish a set of new measurement standards in the field and build up an educational infrastructure to nurture experts. - Source : Korea Herald - 14/04/03


Le service agroalimentaire de la Mission Economique de Séoul a actualisé en mars 2003 la fiche sur les emballages. Le document reprend les informations sur le secteur de l'emballage plastique, métal, carton ondulé, papier, papier-carton et les films d'emballage. Le document est consultable gratuitement sur le site:ée (cliquer sur "les marchés", "les marchés par secteur", "agriculture, agroalimentaire et emballage", "les fiches de synthèse" puis "Emballages" et enfin sur "L'emballage en Corée du Sud"). Source: Mission Economique de Séoul. Contact :

Source : CFCE- Mission Economique de Séoul - 31/03/03


Les coordonnées du fabricant doivent figurer sur la contre-étiquette à compter du 1er avril 2003. C'est généralement l'importateur coréen qui les appose. Si les coordonnées sont suffisamment lisibles sur l'étiquette du produit, il n'est pas nécessaire de les mentionner sur la contre-étiquette. Cependant, il est recommandé par la Korean Food Drug & Administration d'indiquer les coordonnées sur la contre-étiquette qui peut être une vignette collante. Source: Mission économique de Séoul. Contact : frédé

Source : CFCE - Mission Economique de Séoul - 24/03/03


L'indication de la date de péremption est nécessaire pour les cosmétiques contenant plus de 0,5% de l'un des cinq ingrédients suivants: acide ascorbique et ses dérivés, peroxyde, enzymes, tocophérol, rétinol et ses dérivés. De plus, les entreprises (exportatrices / productrices) devront réaliser des tests reconnus par la KFDA (autorité coréenne) pour justifier de la date. Elles devront aussi conserver les résultats des tests au minimum pendant un an, car ils pourront être demandés à tout moment par la KFDA. La date d'entrée en vigueur était le 20 janvier 2003. Source: "Veille Cosmétique Corée du Sud", réalisée par la Mission Economique de Séoul. Contact :

Source : CFCE - Mission Economique de Séoul - 24/03/03


GM Daewoo Auto and Technology Co. said yesterday it began to export the Lacetti to Western European nations, signaling the start of its global marketing strategy for the popular compact sedan.

The automaker said that it loaded 570 units of the Lacetti sedan on an international freighter in Gunsan Port on the west coast yesterday.

The vehicles are bound for Spain, Italy and Switzerland. It is also planning to export 1,098 additional units of the compact sedan to other European nations, including France, Germany, Ireland, Greece and Norway, by the end of this month.

"Given that the Lacetti model received a favorable response from many European buyers at the Geneva Motor Show in March, it is highly likely that the new model will succeed in the European markets," a GM Daewoo official said.

"Full-scale sales of the compact sedan with engine displacements of 1.6 and 1.8 liter will begin across Western Europe in July through GM Daewoo's local sales subsidiaries."

As part of the global marketing drive, the Lacetti will be shipped to North America in the second half of the year, with GM Daewoo aiming to expand annual exports of the model to over 100,000 units, he explained.

Source : Korea herald - 28/04/03


An airplane made in Korea has been delivered overseas, in the first export of aircraft ever for the country.

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) said Friday that the firm held a ceremony marking the delivery of its KT-1B trainer, a derivative of the firm's flagship KT-1 trainer, at the firm's plant in Sacheon, South Gyeongnam Province. Altogether, seven of the craft are to be delivered to the Indonesian Air Force by November this year, under an aircraft manufacturing contract signed in February 2001, KAI said. The aircraft building contract, worth US$60 million in total, sets forth that KAI will deliver the craft, and also supply parts and train pilots. According to the company, the KT-1, a prototype of the KT-1B, has been developed as an advanced turboprop trainer for the Republic of Korea Air Force. The plane is said to have excellent flight characteristics for a pilot trainer, such as a low speed and stability during takeoffs and landings. With a maximum 5-hour fuel supply, the trainer can serve as a light combat aircraft and carry out light attack roles, KAI said. KAI noted that the firm has been negotiating with Singapore to sell several of the KT-1Bs, and receiving inquiries from about 20 different countries, including Columbia, the Philippines, and Turkey.

Source : The Chosun Ilbo - 25/04/03


The Seoul Metropolitan Government yesterday unveiled a master plan for urban development by the year 2020, which focuses on developing areas north of the Han River, which bisects the capital.

The development of the northern areas will be centered on four locations including the district around Gwanghwamun in downtown Seoul.

The Gwanghwamun district will be developed into the central zone of the capital, which will attract international financial institutions. The areas along the derelict Cheonggye Stream, which will be uncovered by 2005, will also developed as part of the central zone.

Under the master plan, five spots were designated as satellite centers for development near the Han River.

The district in Sangam-dong, which will serve as a center for activity in the northwest, will be developed into a high-technology complex and a base for an inter-Korean exchange, city officials said.

The northeast will be organized to create additional work areas and nursing facilities accommodating senior citizens.

The Yongsan zone north of the Han River will be developed into a public park and an international business center to be built near the station of a high-speed railway linking Seoul to Busan.

Districts near Yeondeungpo and Youngdong were designated as centers for the development of southwestern and southeastern parts of the capital, respectively.

The Youngdong zone will attract information and technology businesses.

A city official said the master plan is centered on improving living conditions in areas north of the Han River to the level of the southern parts, noting key centers for transportation, culture and businesses will be located in the northern areas.

He said the city will finalize the plan by June after holding public hearings and collecting opinions from advisory committees on urban development. ( - Source : Korea Herald - 04/04/03


The Korean government will advance its plan to build two or three new satellite cities in the Seoul metropolitan area ahead of schedule in the first half of this year, the Ministry of Finance and Economy said yesterday. The move is part of the government's efforts to stabilize the real-estate market, especially apartment prices in the metropolitan region, the finance ministry said in a statement.

In a meeting of economic vice ministers, the participants also agreed to introduce emergency plans already prepared to minimize the impact of an additional rise in international oil prices on domestic consumer prices.

The government has already lowered taxes on oil imports and has asked citizens to conserve energy. In the worst-case scenario, the authorities have said they will release crude oil reserves and may even ration oil if necessary.

To keep inflation down, the vice ministers also decided to lower the price of about 526 pharmaceuticals covered by the nation's public health insurance system by an average of 2.72 percent. The government also plans to cut the connection fee between home phones and mobile phones in the first half.

The government predicts that inflation will stabilize at 3-3.9 in 2003 if the U.S.-led war in Iraq concludes within six weeks, the ministry said.

Inflation rose 3.9 percent on year in February, with the upside trend likely to continue in March on the back of higher oil prices, increases in tuition fees and higher agricultural produce prices due to the poor harvest, it added.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Kim Jin-pyo will preside over a meeting of economic ministers today to coordinate policies on boosting the sagging economy, the finance ministry said.

High on the agenda will be ways to reinvigorate the service industry, ease regulations on foreign investors and allow diesel vehicle usage in compacts from 2005.

The ministers will also discuss ways to enhance transparency in the market, such as introducing class-action lawsuits and restricting the ownership of financial institutions by the nation's large conglomerates known as chaebol.

Source : Korea Herald - 26/03/03


The government will push to encourage the nation's large conglomerates known as chaebol, to transform themselves into holding companies in a bid to improve their corporate governance, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said yesterday.

In a report to President Roh Moo-hyun, the FTC suggested providing tax incentives to chaebol to become holding companies and giving them more time to prepare for such a change.

The antitrust agency, however, refused to relax requirements for holding companies to keep their debt-to-equity ratios below 100 percent and own a more than 50 percent stake in their unlisted subsidiaries and a more than 30 percent in the listed ones.

Other chaebol-reform measures in consideration include publicizing the stake ownership of chaebol owners and their relatives in their group subsidiaries, limiting the voting rights of the company shares held by chaebol-owned financial institutions and separating these financial institutions from chaebol.

The fair-trade watchdog plans to set up a joint public-private task force this month to discuss measures to discourage chaebol from owning financial institutions. Another task force is scheduled to take off in May to review the FTC's current regulations on chaebol's capital investments in their subsidiaries and third-party companies.

The FTC also reaffirmed that it may delay its scheduled investigation into possible unfair business activities by chaebol should concerns over the on-going war in Iraq and North Korea's nuclear threats continue to deteriorate.

The agency said earlier last month that it will launch inquiries in the second quarter to probe for any illegal inter-group transactions carried out by the country's six major business groups, including Samsung, Hyundai, LG, SK, Hyundai Motor and Hyundai Heavy Industries.

In addition, the FTC plans to enhance its antitrust activities by setting up a "safety zone" to monitor all businesses that have the potential of exercising monopoly control over any given market. The FTC will also push for legislation on raising the level of fines for cartels.

Introduction of so-called public welfare suits for protecting consumers from misleading commercials and the setting up of an escrow system to protect people who buy products on the Internet are also being weighed.

( By Sim Sung-tae Source : Korea herald - 08/04/03


Samsung Electronics is planning to build a new home-appliance plant in either Poland or the Czech Republic, as part of a stepped-up export drive into Europe, a top company executive revealed yesterday.

Han Yong-woe, Samsung's head of digital appliances, said that the company is to come up with its final decision on the site of its first European appliance plant during the first half of this year.

"Considering wage levels, Samsung has decided to build its first European appliance plant in the East, rather than the West. Poland and the Czech Republic are the finalists," said Han. "By 2006, the share of North America, Europe and China in Samsung's appliance export would rise to 60 percent. In particular, aggressive measures will be mapped out to penetrate into East European markets." At present, Samsung operates nine appliances plants in seven countries.

He also unveiled plans to build a second appliance plant in China, which is expected to help boost its China-based sales to over $300 million this year upon completion. Speaking at the launching ceremony for its new line of "built-in" or custom-fitted home-appliance components, Han also said that Samsung's annual revenues in its appliances division would be boosted to $14 billion by 2010 from the $3.8 billion recorded last year. "Household appliances are again emerging as a new growth sector, due to a combination of new technologies, changing lifestyles and an increase in sophisticated consumer needs. The concept of 'white electronics goods' will be changed to 'natural' and 'green' goods," said Han.

The global home appliances market is expected to grow from $160 billion last year to $190 billion in 2010, with the market for Korea's built-in products projected to expand to 1 trillion won in 2005. Han said Samsung aims to grow into the ranks of the world's top-three built-in goods makers by 2005.

( By Yoo Cheong-mo Staff reporter - Source : Korea Herald - 01/04/03


Le sud-coréen Samsung General Chemicals a annoncé jeudi qu'il signerait le contrat définitif scellant la naissance de sa coentreprise de 1,5 milliard de dollars avec TotalFinaElf d'ici fin avril, pour un lancement en juillet.

Samsung General a signé en décembre dernier un memorandum d'accord avec le groupe pétrolier français, via la branche chimie de ce dernier, Atofina, pour mettre sur pied une coentreprise à 50-50 dans la pétrochimie en Corée du Sud.

Samsung General et Atofina ont tenu jeudi des discussions à haut niveau dans la capitale sud-coréenne et confirmé ce plan d'investissement. Les deux sociétés boucleront l'accord d'ici la fin avril et lanceront leur joint-venture en juillet, a ajouté Samsung dans un communiqué.

Samsung General est une filiale du premier conglomérat du pays, Samsung Group.

"Cette visite de dirigeants d'Atofina a confirmé l'intention d'Atofina d'investir dans Samsung General Chemicals en dépit de facteurs externes incertains, tels qu'une guerre en Irak et le bras de fer sur le nucléaire avec la Corée du Nord", poursuit Samsung.

A l'origine, le contrat devait être bouclé d'ici la fin mars mais de nouvelles discussions l'ont différé.

Total a fait savoir qu'il participerait pour moitié à l'investissement de 1,5 milliard de dollars. La coentreprise lui permettra de renforcer sa position en Asie dans le secteur à forte croissance de la pétrochimie.

L'accord prévoit que le complexe pétrochimique de Samsung General sur la côte ouest de la Corée du Sud sera inclus dans le projet commun, et la nouvelle coentreprise produira et commercialisera une gamme de produits de ce complexe.

Source : Reuters - 27/03/03


Nonghyup CA Asset Management, société commune de gestion de portefeuille créée par Crédit Agricole Asset Management et National Agricultural Cooperative Federation (NACF), autrement appelée Nonghyup en Corée, vient d'obtenir, le 28 mars 2003, l'agrément des autorités coréennes permettant le lancement de ses activités commerciales.

Conformément à l'accord signé en septembre 2002 entre Crédit Agricole Asset Management et NACF, Nonghyup CA Asset Management est détenue à 60% par NACF, et à 40% par Crédit Agricole Asset Management, avec un capital de 25 millions de USD.

Basée à Séoul, la nouvelle société gérera et commercialisera, à travers le réseau de NACF, des fonds destinés aux particuliers et aux coopératives en Corée. D'autre part, elle assurera également la gestion d'une partie des ressources de NACF et ses différentes filiales spécialisées. Les objectifs fixés à Nonghyup CA Asset Management sont ambitieux puisqu'il s'agit pour elle de devenir l'une des 5 premières sociétés sud-coréennes de gestion de portefeuille d'ici à 2007.

Ce partenariat avec NACF, première banque de détail en Corée (un coréen sur deux est client de NACF) avec 200 milliards USD de total de bilan, permet à Crédit Agricole Asset Management d'accéder à un réseau de distribution de 870 agences dans tout le pays, tandis qu'il était déjà présent depuis septembre 2000 sur le marché de la clientèle institutionnelle.

Cette opération s'inscrit dans la stratégie de développement à l'international de Crédit Agricole Asset Management qui privilégie des partenariats avec de grands acteurs locaux, détenant de fortes positions sur leur marché des particuliers.

Source : Crédit Agricole - 15/04/03


- Le franco-italien va faire son entrée sur un marché en forte croissance dans le cadre d'un partenatiat avec le sud-coréen.

STMicroelectronics (ST) a annoncé hier son intention de faire son entrée sur le marché des mémoires flash destinées aux applications telles que la photo numérique ou la téléphonie mobile multimédia. Pour ce faire, le fabricant franco-italien va s'allier, avec le sud-coréen l-lynix, qui lui fournira les premières mémoires de capacité 512 mégabits à partir du second semestre. STMicroelectronics est déjà présent dans le domaine des mémoires flash, mais dans la seule technologie NOR - destinée aux applications telles que la téléphonie mobile traditionnelle, les décodeurs numériques ou les périphériques informatiques - qui représente de l'ordre de 75 % à 80 % d'un marché total des mémoires flash estimé à 5 milliards de dollars en 2002 et à 10 milliards cette année. Ce secteur, où l'on retrouve également des acteurs tels qu'Intel, AMD, Sharp ou encore Fujitsu, représentait pour ST un peu plus de 152 millions de dollars au cours du premier trimestre, soit environ 8 % de son chiffre d'affaires.

- Hynix en difficulté.

Le marché des mémoires NAND est quant à lui dominé par Samsung et Toshiba et est appelé à connaître une forte croissance au cours des prochaines années, notamment grâce à l'explosion de la photo numérique. " Notre entrée sur ce marché est stratégiquement importante et Hynix est un excellent partenaire ", souligne Alain Dutheil, vice-président de STMicroelectronics, en réaction aux interrogations de certains analystes face au choix de la société sud-coréenne. Hynix est en effet en proie à d'importantes difficultés financières et l'objet de sanctions douanières sur ses exportations de mémoires DRAM de la part de l'Union européenne et des Etats-Unis.

STMicroelectronics a par ailleurs annoncé des résultats trimestriels globalement en ligne avec les estimations. Au cours des trois premiers mois de l'exercice, la société a enregistré un chiffre d'affaires de 1,62 milliard de dollars, en hausse de 19,4 % par rapport à la même période de 2002, mais en repli de 9,4 % par rapport au précédent trimestre. La marge brute s'est élevée à 35 % et le bénéfice net à 79 millions de dollars (32,9 millions un an plus tôt). Pour le deuxième trimestre, la société table sur une croissance séquentielle de l'ordre de 5 % (entre 3,8 % et 6,3 %). " Habituellement, le deuxième trimestre est un trimestre fort ", rappelle Pascale Pistorio, le PDG de la société franco-italienne, en reconnaissant que cette prévision ne constituait pas une progression spectaculaire. Elle est cependant supérieure à celle des analystes. Merrill Lynch ou CIC Securities attendent ainsi entre 3 % et 4 % de croissance sur le deuxième trimestre.

Source : les Echos - 25/04/03


Pernod Ricard Korea, a leading spirits company and distributor of Chivas Regal and Royal Solute, yesterday unveiled Revolve 17, a 17-year-old super-premium Scotch whisky.

In a launching ceremony at the Westin Chosun Hotel in downtown Seoul, Pernod Ricard Korea launched Revolve 17, with a promise to soothe the palates of even the most fastidious and choosiest of connoisseurs.

Pernod's new product, which costs 29,480 won per 500-ml bottle, is the first locally-produced brand ever introduced by Pernod Ricard Korea.

"Colin Scott, a legendary world-famous master blender, was in charge of development and manufacturing of the new 17-year-old whisky," said Park Yong-ho, president & CEO of Pernod Ricard Korea, at the ceremony.

"Notably, the so-called triple blending technique was adopted to produce a universal and smooth taste preferred by Korean consumers and chilled filtering was used to maintain rich aroma."

He said the innovative and elegant design of the Revolve 17 bottle adds to its modern style and dignity, adding that the shape of the bottle was designed with inspiration from a decanter. "After a successful launching in Korea, Pernod Ricard Korea is to grow the Revolve 17 into a global brand," he said.

( By Yoo Cheong-mo - Source : Korea Herald - 08/04/03

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