Nyheterna från Sydkorea är en del av Tillväxtanalys löpande omvärldsbevakningsuppdrag.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy announced on February 16 that it kicked off four national industrial R&D projects ahead of the nine others scheduled to start within this year. The project periods range from three to seven years, and a total of 80 million SEK (94 billion won) will be invested in the four projects, 12 million SEK (13.5 billion won) of it in 2015. One of the four is for advanced material processing system development. Specifically, carbon fiber-reinforced composite processing systems will be developed for use in the auto parts and similar industries. Secondly, the ministry works on virtual training systems regarding transport means such as aircraft and vehicles, medical training based on operation simulation, sports training and construction machinery handling. In the smart bio production system development project, cell cultivation systems for biopharmaceuticals will be developed for low-entry barrier cell therapy production systems. Also, personalized healthcare systems will be studied so that business models can be made through a comprehensive analysis of personal health records, and public data and industrial activities can be boosted through pilot projects.
The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning announced that it will kick off information sessions in Seoul, Daejeon, Daegu, and Busan from February 9 to provide information to 80 selected startup firms that will be assisted in Korea Innovation Centers (KICs) in the United States. The KIC program is the Ministry’s organization for venture assistance, R&D cooperation, and market penetration support abroad. It was set up in Brussels in November 2013, in Washington D.C. in May last year, and in Silicon Valley six months later. Those companies selected can make use of the KIC's global investment, startup, and marketing expert networks to procure funds and find business partners. In addition, the KIC in Silicon Valley is planning to provide a KIC-Express Program for full-cycle startup assistance and office space as well. The KIC-Express Program is a 10 week program in which promising startup firms are selected for concentrated support ranging from business incubation to financing. The KIC in Silicon Valley is going to strengthen cooperation with organizations in Korea so that more Korean companies can find their way into the U.S. market.
The tax burden on the middle class has grown rapidly, a survey showed Monday. According to the 2014 survey by Statistics Korea, households that account for the top 40 to 60 percent in income, the so-called middle class paid 630 SEK (83,385 won) in monthly taxes last year, which is an 18.8 percent increase from the previous year. The survey used direct taxes such as earned income tax and property taxes. Those in the top 20 percent income bracket, meanwhile, paid 2,871 SEK (380,332 won) in taxes, up 3 percent from a year ago. Their tax burden increased at the same rate as the low income households. The bottom 20 percent in the income bracket paid 187 SEK (24,793 won), up 3.1 percent from a year ago. Those between the 20 and 40 percent in the income bracket saw their tax burden increase by 4.4 percent. These statistics are adding to the grievances of the middle class who have complained that the government is squeezing them for the benefit of businesses and the better-off. Though the per capita income has neared $30,000, the ratio of the middle class has been decreasing. Concern is increasing over the ‘crisis of the middle class, according to Hyundai Research Institute. While the total income of the middle class increased by an annual 7 percent between 1990 and 2013, the steep increase in housing costs and education spending has worsened the household economy. Among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries, Korea's fiscal policy is the least effective in increasing the middle class through income redistribution.
South Korea's trade minister vowed full support Monday for foreign investors that will include efforts to remove unnecessary regulations. In a Seoul meeting with top officials from some 20 foreign firms here, Minister said the government will push for law revisions aimed at providing additional incentives to foreign investors who meet certain conditions, such as hiring a set number of local workers, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. Foreign direct investment freshly pledged to South Korea surged 30.6 percent on-year to $19 billion last year, and the government hopes to boost the amount to a record high of $20 billion this year. To achieve the goal, the government will eliminate difficulties facing foreign investors and firms, such as limiting the number of foreign workers to 20 percent of the workforce for a foreign company, the minister said. Yoon emphasized that South Korea will become more attractive to foreign investors as it is set to sign a bilateral free trade agreement with China.
President Park Geun-hye said Monday South Korea should use the so-called "second Middle East boom" as a new economic growth engine as she renewed calls to revitalize the economy. Park views the Middle East as one of key sources of new opportunities for the South Korean economy, citing potential massive construction and infrastructure projects in the region. The presidential office said Park will visit Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar from March 1 to 9. She will hold a summit with each head of the state. It will be Park's first visit to the Middle East since she took office in February 2013. "The President's trip this time is expected to accelerlate a ‘second Middle East boom,'" Cheong Wa Dae said, noting that this year is the 40th anniversary since South Korea began doing business in the region.
Nyheterna är sammanställda av Yoonjin Cho och Niklas Z Kviselius vid Tillväxtanalys kontor i Tokyo och från Seoul.