LA LETTRE DU KOTRA Juillet 2002 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 : fckotra@hotmail.com  
M. Seong-Kuk Hong - Directeur Adjoint 
M. Frédéric Claveau -  Responsable Investissements
 

S O M M A I R E

¤ RELATIONS INTERNATIONALES ET BILATÉRALES
 Remaniement ministériel à Séoul 
 Bataille navale meurtriere entre Corées 
 Hyun, 20 ans, Coréen 
 Germany in lasting ties with Korea 

¤ POLITIQUE ECONOMIQUE, MACRO-ECONOMIE ET RESTRUCTURATIONS 
 Rok to emerge as 8th largest economy 
 Korea on track to become attractive business hub of Northeast Asia 
 Hub plan needs to focus on logistic infrastructure construction 8
 Multinational corporations' perceptions on business hub feasibility 
 L'effet coupe du monde est resté limité sur l'économie sud-coréenne
 Gov't to name first power firm to privatize today 
 
¤ INVESTISSEMENT 
 South korea in plan to attract capital 
 Seoul to offer tax incentives for increased foreign investment
 Preferences in taxes to high-level foreign firms for 7 years  
 Firms prudent in overseas investment 
 
¤ SECTEURS ECONOMIQUES 
 Management
 English to be used as official language in economic zones
 Ericsson korea pushing for mass layoffs, clashing with labor union
 Technologies de l'information
 Information ministry unveils action plans for 'hub of Northeast Asia' projects
 Major achievements of Korea's e-government program
 Télécommunications 
 SMT takes over Daewoo computer 
 Biotechnologies
 Rok to become no. 7 biotech powerhouse by 2010 
 Santé-Chimie 
 Korean firm planning European roll-out 
 Iba vend un système de protonthérapie en Corée 
 Transports : automobiles, trains, constrruction navale, aéronautique
 La recomposition récente de l'industrie automobile coréenne modifie les stratégies mondiales 
 de ses constructeurs 
 2nd stage of Seoul-Busan rail project to start
 EU urged to agree on shipbuilding bidding prices with RoK 
 Korean aerospace industry to be integrated into one 
 
¤ ENTREPRISES COREENNES 
 Chaebol latching on new Korean image 
 Hanwha begins operations as three companies
 SKT pulls back from controlling KT 
 Samsung veut se renforcer dans les mobiles
 Samsung in bloom 
 
 ENTREPRISES FRANÇAISES 
 Renault Samsung starts new Sedan output 
 Renault : le nouveau modèle créé avec Samsung marque une avancée en Corée du Sud 
 Wal-mart, carrefour vying to take over New Core 
 Essilor maintient le cap et se développe en Asie 

- REMANIEMENT MINISTERIEL A SEOUL

Une femme a été nommée, jeudi, au poste de premier ministre tandis que le ministre de la défense, lui, a été remercié. Ce remaniement est destiné à redorer le blason du gouvernement avant l'élection présidentielle de décembre.

Le président Kim Dae-jung a nommé, jeudi 11 juillet, une femme au poste de premier ministre de Corée du Sud. Mme Chang Sang, une universitaire de 62 ans, doit remplacer le chef du gouvernement sortant, Lee Han-dong, au moment où l'administration est humiliée par un affrontement avec la Corée du Nord et minée par des scandales de corruption.

Si elle est confirmée par les députés, Mme Chang, docteur en théologie de l'université de Princeton, aux Etats-Unis, va devenir la première femme à occuper le poste relativement protocolaire de premier ministre de Corée du Sud.

Par ailleurs, la défense est le principal portefeuille affecté par le remaniement, qui porte sur six des 19 ministères. M. Lee Jun, un ancien président d'un comité de réforme du ministère de la défense, a été choisi pour succèder à Kim Dong-shin. Ce dernier paie pour le fiasco de la marine sud-coréenne, qui a perdu un bateau et cinq hommes en mer Jaune lors d'un affrontement avec des bateaux nord-coréens le 29 juin. Les autres postes concernés sont les ministères de la justice, de la culture et du tourisme, de l'information et des communications, de la santé et des affaires sociales, et des affaires maritimes et de la pêche.

Ces changements interviennent alors que le président Kim, en fin de mandat et sans possibilité de se représenter à la présidentielle, cherche à préserver les chances de son parti en dépit d'une mauvaise passe. Deux de ses fils sont en prison, accusés de corruption, dernières victimes en date d'une série de scandales, et la bataille navale de juin a porté un nouveau coup à sa politique d'ouverture au Nord qui lui avait valu le Nobel de la paix en 2000. Le parti au pouvoir a également essuyé une déroute lors d'élections locales en juin, considérées comme un test.

UN CHOIX ÉLECTORALISTE

"Le président a choisi des réformateurs dotés de compétences pour renforcer la stabilité et l'efficacité de l'administration conformément aux souhaits de la population", a expliqué un porte-parole de la présidence, Park Jie-won. "Le ministre de la défense, Kim Dong-shin, a souhaité prendre sur lui la responsabilité de l'incident en mer Jaune afin de mettre fin à la controverse qui porte atteinte au moral de l'armée", a-t-il ajouté.

L'opposition conservatrice et les médias ont dénoncé le manque de réaction de la marine sud-coréenne qui a laissé échappé un bateau nord-coréen touché lors de la bataille navale. Les responsables militaires ont expliqué avoir voulu éviter une escalade mais aussi reconnu que des erreurs avaient été commises.

Le remaniement répond aussi aux appels des partis au pouvoir comme de l'opposition à la mise en place d'un gouvernement neutre pour organiser l'élection présidentielle. Le choix de Mme Chang comme premier ministre apparaît à la fois comme innovant et destiné à satisfaire le plus de monde possible. "Le président Kim a nommé une femme au poste de premier ministre car le rôle des femmes va prendre une importance plus grande au cours du XXIe siècle", a déclaré le porte-parole de la présidence. "Le président estime que le nouveau premier ministre va conduire le gouvernement de façon satisfaisante car elle n'est pas seulement une universitaire, mais également une responsable à la tête d'une université", a-t-il ajouté.

Chang Sang, qui dirige depuis 1996 l'université pour femmes Ehwa, a occupé toute sa vie des postes dans l'éducation et possède peu d'expérience de la politique. Source : Le Monde - Avec AFP - 11/07/02

 

- BATAILLE NAVALE MEURTRIERE ENTRE COREES - DES BATIMENTS DES MARINES DU NORD ET DU SUD SE SONT AFFRONTES SAMEDI.

Un affrontement, le plus grave en trois ans, entre des bâtiments des deux marines coréennes dans une zone de pêche disputée en mer Jaune a fait samedi plus de cinquante victimes et ranimé brutalement le spectre de la guerre dans la péninsule. Selon un bilan de l'état-major de l'armée de Séoul, un bateau nord-coréen a été touché et plus de trente marins nord-coréens ont été tués ou blessés tandis que, du côté du Sud, un patrouilleur a été coulé, cinq marins ont péri et dix-neuf autres ont été blessés. Un destroyer sud-coréen et d'autres bâtiments ont été dépêchés hier à la frontière maritime.

Le chef d'état-major général du Sud, le général Lee Nam-Shin, a déclaré que ses forces "ont fait preuve de retenue pour éviter que l'affrontement ne dégénère en guerre ouverte qui aurait pu dévaster la péninsule". Séoul et Washington ont accusé Pyongyang de provocation. Le régime stalinien a rejeté sur le Sud la responsabilité des échanges de tirs qui ont rappelé que la péninsule restait un des points chauds du globe, près de cinquante ans après la fin de la guerre de Corée ­ un simple armistice a été signé en 1953 et aucun traité de paix n'a scellé la fin des hostilités.

Etat d'alerte. La situation est restée tendue hier de part et d'autre de la frontière, avec les deux armées en état d'alerte renforcée. Cela n'a pas empêché les Coréens du Sud de fêter les exploits de leur équipe en Coupe du monde. Pyongyang a rejeté des discussions entre responsables militaires dans la zone démilitarisée séparant les deux Corées, proposées pour désamorcer la tension, a rapporté l'agence sud-coréenne Yonhap. La Corée du Nord a exigé comme condition préalable l'abolition de la frontière maritime entre le Nord et le Sud.

L'accrochage s'est déroulé dans la zone où un patrouilleur nord-coréen avait été coulé il y a trois ans. Il a porté un nouveau coup à la politique d'ouverture du Nord, deux ans après un sommet historique qui avait au guré d'une normalisation, mais n'a guère été suivi de résultats. Il a aussi jeté une ombre sur une tenta tive américaine de relance du dialogue avec Pyongyang.

"Grave violation". Le chef des 37 000 soldats américains stationnés en Corée du Sud a accusé hier le Nord de porter la responsabilité de l'incident. "Cette action provocatrice de la Corée du Nord représente une grave violation de l'armistice et pourrait avoir de graves conséquences en différents domai nes", a dit le général Leon La Porte. Des diplomates ont douté qu'une visite à Pyongyang d'une délégation gouvernementale américaine puisse avoir lieu le mois prochain comme l'avait proposé vendredi Washington. Source : Libération- 1/07/02

 

- HYUN, 20 ANS, COREEN

"J'ai 20 ans et je fais des études d'ingénieur à Lyon depuis un an et demi. C'est la troisième fois que je viens à Paris. En revanche, pour mon amie qui m'accompagne, c'est sa première visite."

"Compliqué". "C'est très compliqué pour se déplacer et comme j'ai un petit problème de langue, si je me perds, j'ai peur de demander aux autres. Parce qu'ils ne parlent pas bien français quand ce sont des touristes. Ou parce que les gens ne sont pas très sympas ici. Ma copine a peur que les gens la touchent parce que ce n'est pas une ville très sûre. En plus, dans le métro, il n'y a pas de climatiseurs, il fait trop chaud et il y a trop de monde."

"Paradis". "Dans la rue, il y a trop de merdes de chiens. La ville est sale. En Corée, on pensait que Paris c'était le paradis, que c'était plus verdoyant. Ma copine ne veut plus revenir. Moi, je préfère Lyon à Paris: il y a beaucoup moins de monde, c'est calme, c'est plus simple qu'à Paris pour les transports. C'est aussi moins cher et plus propre même s'il y aussi des merdes de chiens."

"Mode". "Ce qui m'a surpris à Paris c'est qu'il y a pleins de gens de toutes les couleurs, pleins de touristes. En Corée, on pensait que Paris c'était la ville de la mode mais en fait il y a d'autres pays d'Europe plus mode qu'ici. Avec plus de styles de vêtements, de cheveux, de lunettes différents." Par Alexandre RICHARD - Source : Libération - 17/07/2002

 

- GERMANY IN LASTING TIES WITH KOREA

The following is a message from Dr. Hubertus von Morr, Germany's ambassador to Korea, on the visit of President Johannes Rau of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Republic of Korea. - Ed.

From June 27 to June 30, the German Federal President, Johannes Rau, will visit the Republic of Korea. This visit, which takes place only two years after the visit to Germany of President Kim Dae-jung in March 2000, is indeed the highlight and the most important of all the high-ranking visits we saw and will see in Korea this year.

Excellent bilateral relations

The visit of the president underlines the excellent bilateral relations between our countries. Looking back at the history of Korean-German relations, it becomes obvious that it is truly a success story. Though far apart, our peoples have shared a mutual interest in each other for a long time - an interest that resulted in intensive trade, cooperation, mutual respect and eventually friendship and one that reaches far beyond the establishment of official diplomatic relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Korea in 1956.

I am, therefore, proud and happy to say that, today, our bilateral relations are excellent in all fields. Take for example the economy. Today, Korea is Germany's third-largest trading partner in Asia, and Germany, on the other hand, is Korea's largest trading partner in Europe. In 2001, our bilateral trade reached $8.8 billion, and I am optimistic that we will see a further increase this year, given the positive trend in the global economy as well as the Korean economy. Germany is the second-largest European investor in Korea. Currently, German direct investment in Korea amounts to $4.9 billion.

Although trade and profit were and are of great importance, cultural, educational and social issues are other important pillars of our relationship. The foundation of the Goethe Institute in Seoul in January 1969, the signing of the Cultural Agreement between the government of the Federal Republic of Germany and the government of the Republic of Korea in May 1970, and the foundation of a German school in 1976 have underlined from the beginning the strong mutual interest in promoting cultural relations between our two countries.

Not one-way street

Korean-German relations have never been a one-way street. The first Koreans, such as the eminent writer Mirok Li, arrived in Germany in the 1920s, and many of them were among the leaders when Korea was rebuilt after the war. More than 30 years ago, thousands of Korean coal miners and nurses came to Germany. These people did more for Korean-German relations than books and speeches could possibly achieve. Many of them remained in Germany. That is why the Korean community in Germany today is the biggest of its kind in Europe, numbering around 30,000 people - more than in all the other European countries combined.

A substantial part of this community is some 5,000 Korean students, often supported by German or Korean scholarships. And I am very happy that most of these students after coming back to Korea keep a lifelong relationship with their former alma mater, with Germany. One symbol of this lifelong relationship is the fact that we have in Korea more than 30 Korean-German cultural associations.

Next World Cup host

Germany will be the host of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The visit of our president is, therefore, also a reference to Korea as one of the co-hosts of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. He will watch the third-place match in Daegu, the last game of this year's World Cup taking place in Korea. We all share the excitement of our Korean friends about this World Cup and the very successful performance of the Korean national team. This World Cup has been organized perfectly and with great affection by the two hosts - they have set high standards for Germany!

Positive outlook

I sincerely believe that with the visit of our president, our excellent relations will strengthen even further. My embassy as well as the other German institutions in Korea, such as the Goethe Institute and the Korean German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will spare no effort to reach that noble goal. Source : Korea Herald - 2002.06.27

 

- ROK TO EMERGE AS 8TH LARGEST ECONOMY

The enhanced national brand and corporate image resulting from the just-ended World Cup will boost Korea's chances of emerging as a true economic powerhouse in 2010.

Simultaneously, the Korean government will be adopting industrial development strategies designed to place such promising sectors as biotechnology and nanotechnology on the global map.

Delivering a lecture to business executives attending a seminar here organized by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Commerce, Industry and Energy Minister Shin Kook-hwan said the current realities make it possible for Korea to emerge as the world's eighth-largest economy by the year 2010.

"By achieving an annual economic growth of 6 percent, the per capita gross domestic product will have surpassed $30,000," Shin told some 200 business executives.

Pursuing the theme of "Dynamic Korea, Hub of Asia," Korea has been seeking to become a country which is strong in manufacturing, a global leader in trade, the center of Northeast Asia and a pioneer in information technology and related services.

"We are making the transformation into an innovation-driven strategy, having gone through the stages of factor-driven and investment-driven strategies," Shin Noted.

Along this line, he said, the government has been developing policies to achieve high technology, high added value and high productivity on its way to a wealth-driven strategy.

In realizing each of the three "highs," which are essential for securing the competitive edge needed to survive in the 21st century, the government has introduced specific programs, such as the technology roadmap, process innovation toward higher productivity and the means to develop new vital industrial materials.

"This is not to say that Korea will cease efforts to further boost its manufacturing sector since it is an instrumental part of an economy that is acutely lacking in natural resources," he said.

By acting as a catalyst in helping the private sector achieve strong growth, the government will continue to take the initiative in bringing the corporate, research and academic resources together.

"At the same time, it is also important that Korea strengthens its cooperative ties with China and Japan to turn Northeast Asia into a heart of the global economy," Shin said.

Meanwhile, the minister projected that the Korean economy will grow by 6 percent this year as exports and investments continue to recover in a healthy economic environment.

"While the economic instability in the U.S. is a reality and has specific implications for the Korean economy, foreign market demand will grow in the second half," Shin forecast.

With vitality in such important sectors as semiconductors, liquid crystal displays, automobiles and steel, exports will reach $165 billion this year, leaving Korea with a trade surplus of $7-10 billion.

As far as foreign investments are concerned, the $4.84 billion recorded in the first half was a 29.4-percent improvement from the same period of last year and this trend will continue in the second half, Shin added. Source : Korea Times (2002.07.18)

 

- KOREA ON TRACK TO BECOME ATTRACTIVE BUSINESS HUB OF NORTHEAST ASIA

Korea may be a small country on the map, but it is home to some big economic players. Korea is home to market-leaders and trendsetters in the shipbuilding, steel, semiconductor, LCD, PDP and telecommunication equipment industries. In more general terms, Korea is the world's 12th largest trading nation and the world's 13th largest economy in terms of GDP.

During the early days of economic development, Korea pursued a nationalist development path, borrowing from the global capital markets to foster the growth of the chaebol conglomerates, with foreign direct investment playing only a minor role. This development strategy helped the Korean economy grow rapidly until the late 1990s. However, as the world economy globalized, Korea's reliance on borrowing revealed many structural problems, and ultimately led to the 1997 financial crisis.

The Kim Dae-jung administration, which was inaugurated at the onset of the crisis, launched a wide-ranging reform program to restructure the economy by abolishing outdated practices and regulations. Far-reaching restructuring was implemented in four major areas of the economy - corporate, financial, labor and public sectors - on the basis of adherence to democracy and market principles. The results have not been perfect and the restructuring is still a continuing process, but the Korean economy without a doubt now operates on very different principles from those of the past.

Korea has recovered faster than any other crisis-hit Asian country and repaid all standby assistance to the IMF three years ahead of schedule. Last year, while other economies contracted in the wake of the global economic recession, Korea posted a positive growth rate of 3 percent, and expanded by 5.7 percent during the first quarter of 2002.

Foreign reserves, which fell to $3.9 billion at the height of the crisis in 1997, have been replenished to $106 billion as of March 2002, making Korea the world's fifth-largest holder of foreign currencies. The unemployment rate, which had soared to 6.8 percent in 1997, has dropped to 3.4 percent; and interest rates have also stabilized at 7 percent. Korea's macroeconomic improvements have also been recognized externally. In March, Moody's credit rating agency raised Korea's sovereign rating by two notches to A3, taking it back to pre-crisis levels.

Foreign investment

Nowhere are significant changes more apparent than in Korea's all-out promotion of foreign direct investment (FDI). Korea was infamous as a nation where anti-foreign sentiments in the business landscape ran deep. But nowadays these feelings have been virtually eradicated. In the wake of the financial crisis, President Kim Dae-jung prioritized FDI as a key component of the country's economic revival strategy.

Korea has opened virtually all business sectors to FDI, allowing M&As between foreign and Korean companies. In fact, 99.8 percent of all business sectors are now open to FDI, including manufacturing, finance and real estate. Furthermore, the Foreign Direct Investment Promotion Act of 1998 streamlines investment procedures and provides a variety of factory site and tax incentives.

Korea, once considered a nation that only tolerated FDI, is now regarded as one of the most attractive destinations for international investments. Over the last four years alone, Korea has attracted $52 billion in FDI, which is more than double the amount for the 36-year period of development leading up to the financial crisis. The number of foreign enterprises operating in Korea stood at 4,419 at the end of 1997, but in the intervening four years, that total has more than doubled. The ratio of aggregate FDI to GDP in 2001 was 8.8 percent compared to 3 percent in 1997.

The attraction of foreign portfolio investment has also expanded. Ownership ceilings have been raised and foreign exchange transactions have been liberalized. As of the end of April 2002, foreign investment accounted for 36 percent of Korea's stock market capitalization. Now, foreign-invested companies are more than simply owners of Korean assets. They have become integral players in the country's economic and industrial structure, taking leading roles in the manufacturing, finance and service industries.

Business center of N.E. Asia

It is on the basis of these reforms and achievements that Korea has embarked on a path to become Northeast Asia's business center. The basic formula for the business hub strategy is to develop a comprehensive transportation and logistics system, expand IT and media infrastructure, create an optimum climate for multinationals and improve the living conditions for foreigners.

Korea is blessed with the geographic advantage of being situated at the center of Northeast Asia, connecting the Pacific and Eurasia. In fact, Korea is positioned between China, the world's largest market, and Japan, the world's second-largest economy. And Korea has taken steps to ensure that the markets of these nations are within striking distance by grafting a state-of-the-art transportation and logistics system on to the nation's natural geographic advantage.

Incheon International Airport, serving Seoul, opened in 2001. The region's most modern airport, Incheon is located within a three-hour flight of 43 cities with populations of over 1 million. It will soon establish itself as a central Northeast Asian airport through facility expansion. Busan, on Korea's southern tip, is now home to the world's third-largest container port. To develop Busan and Gwangyang ports into Northeast Asian mega-ports, Korea will first expand the number of container piers and high-water terminals. These two ports were designated as customs-free zones where customs clearance procedures are omitted and customs duties and taxes are exempted.

Korea has an advanced IT infrastructure. It has made extraordinary strides in establishing a high-speed communication network and spreading the use of the internet, which has led to landmark progress in developing the IT industry. In fact, the production of the IT industry as a percentage of GDP has increased from 7.7 percent in 1997 to 15.6 percent in 2001. Also, the penetration rates of high-speed Internet connections and wireless communication are among the world's highest. We plan to develop Korea as the hub of a Northeast Asian communications network by creating an environment for the general use of 2Mbps-minimum broadband Internet services by 2005.

Furthermore, the nation will make every effort to create a world-class business climate and allow foreigners to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle in Korea. In particular, specified development areas will be designated as special economic zones (SEZs) to create a favorable environment for foreign businesses. The development districts of Gimpo, Songdo and Youngjong Island near Seoul will be designated as SEZs.

The new Korea is finally being recognized as one of the most attractive places in the world to do business. The Korean government will not rest on its laurels, but will continue to advance economic reforms to turn Korea into one of the world's leading economies. And in the increasingly interconnected global economy, Korea is reaching out to foreign partners. We invite you to share your valuable experiences and perspectives on doing business in this part of the world.

* The writer is minister of commerce, industry and energy. - Ed. Source : Korea Herald (2002.06.25)

 

- HUB PLAN NEEDS TO FOCUS ON LOGISTIC INFRASTRUCTURE CONSTRUCTION

By Yu Kun-ha Business editor : Former Prime Minister Nam Duck-woo is one of the originators of the idea that Korea can and should be the business hub of Northeast Asia. He is also the man who inspired President Kim Dae-jung to pursue the hub vision.

One of the key economic officials leading Korea's development efforts in the 1960s and 1970s under the late President Park Chung-hee, Nam awakened to Korea's potential as the logistic hub of the Northeast Asian region earlier than anyone else.

Nam's insight sprang from his long interest in developing the logistic infrastructure of Northeast Asian countries, including China, the Russian Far East, Mongolia and North Korea.

An economist-turned-bureaucrat, Nam was keenly aware that the huge growth potential of this richly endowed part of the world was not fully utilized because of insufficient logistic infrastructure.

Hence, since 1991, he has been consistently promoting the establishment of a Northeast Asian Development Bank to finance logistic infrastructure construction in the region.

Last year, the insightful economist thought that it was high time for the government to start full-fledged efforts toward making Korea the business hub of Northeast Asia. So in September, he organized an international seminar to draw the attention of economic policymakers to the issue.

Then he drafted an implementation plan and presented it to President Kim Dae-jung in a private briefing session. Kim endorsed Nam's hub scheme and declared in January this year that the government would pursue it as a new development paradigm.

Thus, the government's action plan announced in April was founded on Nam's initial blueprint. While the plan featured many new elements that were not included in Nam's original proposal, it retained his basic framework. This month, the government is set to unveil a more detailed draft implementation plan and put it to a public debate.

The Korea Herald recently held an interview with Nam to learn about his view of the government's hub approach and his proposal for a Northeast Asian Development Bank.

Focus on logistic hub

Question: Your original plan was focused on making Korea the logistic hub of Northeast Asia. Yet the government's plan is more ambitious and comprehensive as it also envisions a finance hub. What do you think about it?

Answer: The government's plan envisages Korea as the hub of business, finance, logistics and even tourism. As a long-term approach, the plan is fine. Yet what is important is where you begin. In my view, we have to begin with a logistic hub centered around Incheon International Airport. If we create a logistic center around Youngjong Island (where the airport is located) by building necessary infrastructure and attracting logistics-related companies, it will naturally evolve into a business center.

We cannot build a business center, a financial hub and a logistic center separately from the beginning. It does not work that way. Building a business center is an evolutionary process, so to speak, with the logistic center being the starting point.

And what is meant by a financial center? A financial center should have a stock market and the presence of major foreign banks. As such, you cannot build a financial center on Youngjong Island; Seoul is the right place. As far as I understand, the government is not envisioning a financial center like Singapore or Tokyo or New York in the logistic hub. What the government envisions are banks moving into the logistic center as demand for banking services grows.

Q: So what advice would you give to government policymakers?

A: In implementing the hub plan, it is important to establish priorities in investment. I want to stress that the first priority should be placed on building logistic infrastructure, especially around Youngjong Island. The area is one of the few places in Korea where air and sea transportation can be linked. We need to concentrate investment there.

Building a bridge between Youngjong Island and Songdo New Town of Incheon City is also one of the top priority projects because we need to improve the accessibility of the airport area.

If you build an efficient logistic center around Incheon International Airport, multinational companies which want to make inroads into the Chinese market will set up distribution centers there.

I heard about a European whisky firm planning to set up a distribution center on Youngjong Island. The company's plan is to bring in its undiluted solution to the center, carry out such final-stage production activities as bottling and labeling and distribute the finished products to its operations across Asia within 24 hours.

I also heard about an American medical center planning to set up a hospital near the airport for Chinese patients. The logic behind the plan was that as motorization increases in China, auto accidents will increase as well, boosting demand for high-standard hospitals.

The point is you have to create an efficient logistic center first to attract multinational corporations. You should not hope to create a business center here that is not backed up by logistic infrastructure.

Definition of 'special economic zone'

Q: If I understand you correctly, your point is to attract new foreign companies to the envisioned business hub, not those already operating in Korea. Am I right?

A: Yes. If you lure foreign companies already operating in Korea to the planned business hub around Incheon International Airport, it may contribute to the development of the airport region but not to that of the nation as a whole.

In this context, it is important how we define the concept of the "special economic zone (SEZ)." As announced, the government plans to designate the Youngjong Island area as a special economic zone. If you offer tax benefits to companies within the SEZ and deny them to those outside it, you will cause the latter to migrate to the zone, but this does not make a net contribution to the nation.

So I advise policymakers to offer tax incentives to all companies, whether they are located inside the SEZ or not. Ideally speaking, you need to make the entire country an SEZ, just like the Netherlands. In fact, many foreign experts express opposition to the idea of creating an SEZ in a certain part of the nation because it means other parts of the nation are not accessible.

Yet we cannot make the entire nation an SEZ because of political and social barriers. Hence the need to limit an SEZ to a specified area. Let's hope that the boundary of the SEZ gradually expands to cover the entire nation through a learning process.

In operating an SEZ, you have to define its concept clearly. You should not define it in terms of tax benefits or other incentives. These benefits should be provided equally to all companies, whether they are in or outside the SEZ. In my view, an SEZ is a district where legally regulated activities, such as the establishment of foreign educational or medical institutions or the sales of foreign insurance products, are given space. I think we need more study on this issue.

Concentration on Youngjong Island

Q: You said the Youngjong Island area is a place where air and sea transportation can be linked. Yet Incheon Port is small compared with Busan or Gwangyang ports and hence is not on the trunk sea route connecting Southeast Asia and North America.

A: Incheon Port cannot be compared to Busan or Gwangyang ports. It cannot be a hub port for heavy cargoes. Yet it can be the hub port for firms based in northeastern China which need to transport by air their light, high-tech cargoes around the world. For these firms, the cheapest way is to bring their cargoes to Incheon Port for air transport at Incheon airport. In fact, this explains why Korea Air is the world's second-largest cargo carrier.

Although there is no big port in Incheon now, we can build a deep-sea port there in the future. And if the Trans-Korea Railroad (TKR) is connected with the Trans-Siberian Railroad (TSR), Incheon's status as a logistic hub will be enhanced.

According to experts, a logistic hub cannot prosper without having a large consumption and production base in its hinterland. Incheon has Seoul at its back. In this respect, the growth potential of Gwangyang on the southern coast and Daebul on the southwestern coast as a logistic hub is limited because both lack a large consumption base in their hinterland. Yet Pyeongtaek Port on the western coast has great potential because of its proximity to Seoul. Pyeongtaek could be an industrial hub of high-tech companies.

Legal preparations

Q: The government plans to set up a special administrative unit to govern the envisioned SEZ. And it will have to enact or revise a large number of laws to enable the special administrative unit to offer one-stop service to foreign investors. Will the government be able to secure cooperation from the ruling and opposition political parties needed to make all the necessary legal preparations?

A: It will not be easy to lay all the legal foundations required to implement the hub project. That's why I called on the political parties to launch a special parliamentary panel empowered to deal with the legal affairs related to the hub project. I also called for the establishment of a strong government agency because inter-ministerial coordination is important for smooth implementation.

At the moment, however, it is difficult to expect the political parties to work together on such a project. Taking this into consideration, the government has delayed the deadline for finalizing its hub plan till the end of this year. It means the incumbent administration will limit its role to devising a hub plan, leaving the task of implementing it to the next administration.

Proposal for N.E. Development Bank

Q: You have promoted the establishment of a Northeast Asia Development Bank (NEADB) since the early 1990s. What is the rationale for the bank?

A: According to a study by the East-West Center in Hawaii, the cost of developing infrastructure in the Northeast Asian region is estimated at $7.5 billion a year, while funds available from various sources, including the existing multilateral development banks such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, are limited to $2.5 billion a year.

There are funds in the international money market that can easily fill the gap. But to attract funds in the international market to infrastructure projects in the Northeast Asian region, we need an institutional mechanism. I think the NEADB can play the capital intermediation role.

Furthermore, the NEADB will promote the economic integration of the Northeast Asian region by coordinating a long-term regional investment program. This point can be illustrated by the Tumen River Area Development Program, a UNDP-sponsored project involving China, Russia and North Korea. Launched in the mid-1990s, the undertaking has thus far made little progress. The main reason is that the UNDP is incapable of financing it. Experts note that if an NEADB had been in place, the project would have made a lot more progress.

Q: Then, what is the key to launching the NEADB?

A: Thus far, I haven't officially asked the Korean government to pursue the establishment of the NEADB. But personally, I have sought to build consensus for the idea in Japan and China.

The central question is who is to take the initiative for the establishment of the bank. I think the key lies in the hands of either Japan or the United States. Japan has been lukewarm toward the idea because it initiated the establishment of the Asian Development Bank. Some Japanese officials think the NEADB will duplicate the business of ADB, which to me is an erroneous view.

The truth is the existing development banks cannot possibly meet the specific development needs of the Northeast Asian region by themselves, simply because China and Russia are too disproportionately large to be adequately dealt with within the purview of the banks' operations.

The United States has traditionally had misgivings about proposals for regional development banks on the grounds that new banks would compete with the World Bank. But the question to be asked here is: Why have the four existing development banks (the Inter-American Development Bank, the African Development Bank, the ADB and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) been established, notwithstanding the purpose and function of the World Bank? The answer is that smaller development banks are needed to better suit the unique characteristics and needs of their respective regions.

I think if Japan takes the initiative and all other Northeast Asian countries follow, which is very likely, the United States would get on board. A summit meeting among Japan, China and Korea would provide an opportunity to discuss the matter. (khyu@koreaherald.co.kr) Source : Korea Herald - 2002.07.01

 

- MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS' PERCEPTIONS ON BUSINESS HUB FEASIBILITY

This article is based on a recently completed study carried out during May 2002, in which 37 face-to-face interviews were conducted with senior executives of foreign companies and various chambers of commerce in Korea. Interviewees were asked to reflect on their experiences in the Korean market compared to in other international markets.

The most dynamic feature of the Korean economy since the late 20th century has been the emergence of the country as a major destination for foreign investors. Since the early 1990s, more than 1,000 foreign multinational corporations (MNCs) have established operations in fields ranging from consumer products to high-tech industries. In particular, the 1997 financial crisis has given rise to a vastly changing market environment. For the first time in modern Korean capitalism, issues like transparency, accountability and relaxed government intervention have been major themes running throughout the local and foreign business community.

In this way, better opportunities are now being provided to MNCs. Given that Korea still has rich market potential, a strong industrial base, an abundance of highly educated manpower, an excellent communication and logistical infrastructure, a high savings rate, and high market value as a strategic business location, the foreign business community almost unanimously acknowledges that the balance between risk and opportunity is in Korea's favor, even compared to other neighboring countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, China, and Japan.

As such, the Korean government's recently initiated vision to transform the country into a world-class business and financial center in the Northeast Asian region sounds somewhat timely and achievable. However, this study shows that while the foreign business community in Korea is unanimously in favor of Korea's great potential to become the business hub of Northeast Asia, they see the new vision as unrealistic unless there is a stark change in the current internal and external business environment.

Apart from some well-known issues among the foreign community regarding doing business in Korea, such as tax rates, labor flexibility, and lifestyle, Korea is still seen as one of the most difficult markets across Asia to invest in and export to. Therefore, unless the image of Korea as a difficult market to crack is improved, the new concept of 'business and financial hub of Northeast Asia' is unrealistic. Some foreign investment related policies still remain structured primarily to encourage technology transfer and optimize the use of imports for export industries while discouraging unnecessary imports.

This study has also confirmed that there is no firm ground to define Korean business practices. This is because what is normally considered universal business common sense is construed differently in the Korean context, specific examples being the concept of a contract or the absence of the notion of win-win situations. Other difficulties stem from:

- The government's pragmatic but still nationalistic attitude towards foreign investment;

- A strong Confucian influence, especially linked to the relationships across government, business and financial institutions;

- A long history of homogeneous culture;

- Union attitudes;

- The complexity of Korean company structure involving seniority and the accompanying wage system;

- Internal conflict rooted in language communication difficulties, unsuitable partner relationships and lack of understanding of the demands of joint venture business;

- Short-term orientation and frequent changes in policies and laws without prior notice;

- Lack of transparency in the financial market, its infrastructure and across society;

- Frequent rotation of posts within the government and its related branches;

- A wide gulf between the top and working-level people from English-language proficiency to expertise;

-·Lack of expertise and professionalism among bureaucrats and government officials; and

- Lack of global perspective and pro-business mindset among bureaucrats and government officials

The overriding implication of the above is quite clear. That is, we must admit that Korea's challenges do not lie within tax/labor laws, FDI policies, or financial infrastructure, but rather within the deep rooted un-globalized culture manifested in almost every aspect of Korean society. Hence, we must be open to criticism while establishing a realistic and comprehensive strategy that aims at transforming the country into a more open, transparent, competitive, globalized and culturally dynamic society.

Although this may sound like a formidable challenge to a country like Korea, it is also true that achieving the goal of becoming a regional business and financial hub is not an impossible task. Once the Korean government, businesses and Korean people themselves start moving towards such a society, the realization of the 'hub' vision will occur naturally.

The writer is a professor at the School of Management, Edith Cowan University, Australia and a visiting professor at Chung-Ang University's Graduate School of International Studies. He can be contacted at y.lee@ecu.edu.au. - Ed. By Lee You-il Source : Korea Herald - 2002.06.27

 

- L'EFFET COUPE DU MONDE EST RESTE LIMITE SUR L'ECONOMIE SUD-COREENNE

Si cet article vous intéresse, n'hésitez pas à nous contacter

Source : La Tribune - 08/07/2002

 

- GOV'T TO NAME FIRST POWER FIRM TO PRIVATIZE TODAY

The government and Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) will name the first power generation company up for sale today, thus beginning the privatization plan for the country's five state-run thermal power generation firms.

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said yesterday that KEPCO has decided to keep to the privatization schedule by naming the first firm for sale among its five power generation subsidiaries - Korea South-East Power Co., Korea Midland Power Co., Korea Western Power Co., Korea Southern Power Co. and Korea East-West Power Co.

KEPCO reached the decision during a meeting with its financial advisor for the project, JP Morgan, Friday.

"The sale of the first power generation company is extremely important as it will set the basis for the privatization of the remaining four companies," one ministry official said. "Accordingly, we will have to proceed with the sale very carefully and after thorough consideration."

When looking at the five subsidiaries in terms of capital, East-West Power Co. is the largest with 4.8 trillion won, followed by Southern Power Co., Western Power Co. and Midland Power Co. Korea South-East Power Co. is the smallest with 2.7 trillion won.

In profit and loss, South-East Power Co. posted net profit of over 160 billion won between April and December of last year, but East-West Power Co. Recorded net loss of over 20 billion won as it invested heavily in new facility equipment last year.

In terms of debt ratio, Southern Power Co. topped the group at 110.0 percent, followed by East-West Power Co. with 107.9 percent, Western Power Co. 102.0 percent, Midland Power Co. 98.9 percent and South-East Power Co. 98.5 percent.

Accordingly, key industry sources predict that the first privatization candidate will most likely be South-East Power Co., which boasts the strongest financial condition and has the largest base power capacity at 3,565MW, though it has the lowest operation capacity of the five KEPCO subsidiaries at 5,565MW.

But Southern Power is also a strong candidate as it is equipped with the greatest number of the newest power plants after East-West Power Co., industry watchers say.

Western Power Co. currently takes up the third position in ranking by capital, debt volume and size of net profit.

The sale of the first power generation company will be just the start of the government's two-phase privatization plans.

In the first phase, it will first privatize two power companies. After auctioning off stakes large enough to grant management rights to successful bidders, the government plans to dispose of the remaining shares in a public offering. It will also simultaneously pursue the public offering to maximize the distribution of the company's shares.

The government will then launch the second phase of the privatization project, selling the remaining three power generation firms. Though no specific dates are named, MOCIE minister Shin Kook-hwan has previously said that privatization of the sector will be completed by 2005 at the latest.

Meanwhile, for the sake of a smooth privatization process, KEPCO will begin securing approvals from creditors at home and abroad to resolve joint debt and default problems. It will also bolster the market monitoring ability of the Korean Electricity Commission so it can meet its role as an independent regulatory organization, the company said. Source : Korea Herald (2002.07.15)

 

- SOUTH KOREA IN PLAN TO ATTRACT CAPITAL

South Korea, July 7 - The South Korean government announced today that it would offer tax breaks and other incentives to foreign investors in an effort to attract capital.

The plan aims to help South Korea reach its goal of doubling foreign investment to a fifth of the gross domestic product from 10 percent now, and from 2 percent before the financial crisis of 1997-98. In the first half of 2002, foreign direct investment rose 29 percent, to $4.8 billion.

Under legislation prepared by the finance ministry, foreign manufacturers investing more than $50 million in the country will receive a seven-year exemption from corporate and income taxes. They will also receive a 50 percent tax cut for three additional years.

South Korea's average corporate tax rate is 27 percent, compared with 24.5 percent in Singapore and 16 percent in Hong Kong.

In addition, a foreign employee earning $500,000 a year will pay income tax of 21.7 percent, down from 25.7 percent now.

As part of its strategy, the government plans to set up special economic zones. Source : New York Times (Bloomberg News) - 08/07/02

 

- SEOUL TO OFFER TAX INCENTIVES FOR INCREASED FOREIGN INVESTMENT

The Ministry of Finance and Economy unveiled yesterday a plan to provide various tax incentives to foreign companies and businessmen residing in Korea in order to attract more foreign investment.

The plan, which will be finalized later this month, is part of the government's efforts to develop Korea into an international business hub of Northeast Asia within five to ten years to compete with Hong Kong and Singapore, the finance ministry said.

Under the plan, foreign manufacturing companies investing $50 million or more to set up an operation in the envisioned special economic zones (SEZs) will pay no corporate and income taxes for seven years and receive a 50 percent reduction on these taxes for another three years.

The government plans to develop Yeongjong Island, Songdo New Town of Incheon and the Gimpo reclaimed land site, as well as Busan and Gwangyang, as SEZs.

These foreign companies will also pay no customs duties or special consumption and value-added taxes on capital goods they import for a period of three years. And they will receive a 100 percent reduction on acquisition, registration, property and real estate taxes for five years and a 50 percent reduction on these taxes for another three years.

Such tax incentives will also apply to foreign distribution companies and resort developers investing $30 million or more in the SEZs as well as those investing $20 million or more in hotel and convention businesses.

Moreover, the government will offer a 100 percent corporate and income tax exemption for three years and a 50 percent cut for the following two years for foreign companies investing between $10-50 million in the manufacturing industry, $10-30 million in the distribution and resort industries, and $10-20 million in the hotel and convention sector in the SEZs.

These companies will pay no customs duties on capital goods and research and development equipment they import for a period of two years. They will also receive a 100 percent reduction on acquisition, registration, property and real estate taxes for three years and a 50 percent reduction for the following two years.

Also, foreign companies will get a 100 percent corporate and income tax exemption for seven years and a 50 percent reduction for an additional three years regardless of the value of their investment and the location of their residence in Korea if they invest in Korea's information, bioengineering and nano technologies, or film, computer game and media industries.

Meanwhile, the finance ministry also plans to extend currently permitted tax exemptions to cover allowances that foreign employees receive from their headquarters such as housing and educational payments.

Currently, these allowances are exempt up to the amount of 20 percent of total income, but the ceiling will be raised to 40 percent beginning next year.

The new ceiling is expected to lower the income tax burden of foreign employees in Korea by about 20 percent, the ministry said.

The ministry said that it would not offer additional tax incentives to foreign financial institutions operating in the country, citing the recommendations by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development not to engage in "harmful tax competition" in the finance sector among member countries.

According to a survey on Korea's business environment conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea (AmCham) in March, Korea ranked third in tax environment among five countries/city-states in Northeast Asia.

Korea ranked below Hong Kong and Singapore, but above Japan and China.

To create a better tax environment, the survey suggested that the Korean government reduce personal tax rate to approximately 20 percent from the current 30 percent. "Compared to Hong Kong's 17 percent and Singapore's 28 percent, Korea's rates are uncompetitive," the survey said.

The survey also said that Korea's corporate tax rate of 30 percent is too high compared Hong Kong's 16 percent and Singapore's 26 percent. Source Ko rea Herald (2002.07.08)

 

- PREFERENCES IN TAXES TO HIGH-LEVEL FOREIGN FIRMS FOR 7 YEARS

If foreign firms newly invest into culture contents business or knowledge based business such as movies and games, they would receive preference in reduction and exemption from taxes like companies in 'foreign investment region' .

Limitation of tax exemption to every foreign staff who works in domestic relevant to overseas service will be raised twice from next year, therefore, burden of income tax will reduce highly.

On the other hand, some of Incheon Youngjong district, which will be developed as one of Northeast business hub, will be appointed as 'city', so development will be strongly restricted. Government confirmed and announced plan for development of Youngjong and treatment for supporting tax to foreign firms and foreign staff, in order to become 'Northeast business Hub' on 7th.

At first, Ministry of Finance and Economy decided to deduct taxes of foreign firms that invest in culture contents business such as movies, games, and media, etc and knowledge based business such as Information Technology (IT), Biotechnology (BT), and Nano Technology (NT), etc at the level of 'foreign investment region' without considering their scale and investment region, like reduction of 50% of income taxes and corporation tax for 3 years and 70% for 7 years. Middle level foreign investment firm that invests 10 million ~ 50 million dollars (in terms of manufacturing field) couldn't get preference except in Jeju island however, if it moves into economic zone in next year, it can receive preference such as 'reduction of 100% income tax and corporation tax for three years, 50% for two years'.

Also, limitation of tax exemption regarding overseas service that foreign staff receives will be raised 40% of monthly salary from current 20%, and income tax will be reduced 15.4 ~ 27.2%. This privilege will be given to foreign staff that works in domestic firms. Ministry of construction decided to appoint city facility area (1,230,000 pyeong) among 5,700,000 pyeong of Youngjong district as city. It will be done in the end of this month and will be maintained for 15 years, therefore, every development will be strongly restricted before concrete development plan is established.

Source : Dongailbo (2002.07.07)

 

- FIRMS PRUDENT IN OVERSEAS INVESTMENT - By Kim Yon-se

South Korean companies have expanded their foreign direct investment since the 1997 exchange crisis but have been cautious in their overseas investment, according to data released yesterday by the Export-Import Bank of Korea (Eximbank).

In 2001, cases of direct investment by Korean companies in foreign markets totaled 2,032 _ 0.4 percent up from 2000. However, the total amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) decreased by 17 percent from $3.92 billion in 2000 to $3.25 in 2001.

Eximbank announced that cases of foreign direct investment in 2001 surged 54.4 percent, from 1,316 in 1997, and that the amount decreased 7.6 percent, from $3.52 billion in 1997.

China topped the list of targets _ domestic corporations' direct investment there accounted for 14.3 percent of last year's total.

The United States, the main investment target for Korean companies in 2000, with 30.1 percent of that year's total, in 2001 accounted for only 12.5 percent.

Conglomerates and large corporations made up 73.3 percent of the total, with 71 cases amounting to $2.38 billion. Small- and medium-sized companies accounted for 22.8 percent with 1,275 cases and $742 million. Small investors accounted for only 4 percent.

By sector, manufacturing ranked first, accounting for 78.8 percent, followed wholesale and retail with 10.5 percent and real estate and service with 6 percent each.

Communication equipment topped the list in the manufacturing sector, with a noteworthy 76.1 percent of the total.

Lee Young-soo, a director at Eximbank, pointed out that corporations' foreign direct investment was less than brisk despite the recent rally of the domestic economy.

He attributed the trend to domestic companies' continuous efforts, in light of the economic crisis in 1997, to avoid reckless investments abroad.

Meanwhile, financial experts expect foreign direct investment in Korea to continue to rise, in particular due to the rise in Korea's profile following the World Cup finals. kys@koreatimes.co.kr Source : Korea Times - 14/07/02

 

- ENGLISH TO BE USED AS OFFICIAL LANGUAGE IN ECONOMIC ZONES

The government has decided to adopt English along with Korean as official language in ``special economic zones.''

``English will be adopted as an official language in areas like Cheju, Kimpo, Youngjong, Songdo and port districts of Pusan, which will be developed as hubs of international business, finance and logistics,'' a government spokesman said yesterday.

The decision was part of a package of measures finalized to maximize the benefits of the successful World Cup Korea hosted together with Japan.

The administration is also seeking to ease criteria for the enrollment of Korean nationals in ``international schools,'' promote the establishment of a greater number of those schools and speed up the opening of the country's educational market.

During the meeting presided over by President Kim Dae-jung, 80 specific plans were finalized to boost exports and enhance the country's image as a power in the fields of information technology and culture.

To maximize the economic effects of the World Cup, the government will introduce a series of new economic systems to meet global standards.

It will draw up a 10-year plan to develop next-generation environmental technologies with the goal of becoming a world leader in the industry by 2010.

In addition, the administration said it would continue to clamp down on illegal labor strikes in order to prevent social unrest.

"The enhanced international image of Korea during the successful co-hosting of the World Cup provides an opportunity to upgrade all sectors of the economy," the president said.

"We need to re-establish principles and standards to promote a fundamental increase of the country's competitiveness," he stressed.

The government officials on hand for the meeting included Prime Minister-designate Chang Sang and Deputy Prime Minister Jeon Yun-churl. Source : Korea Times - 16/07/02

 

- ERICSSON KOREA PUSHING FOR MASS LAYOFFS, CLASHING WITH LABOR UNION

Ericsson Korea, a subsidiary of the world's biggest producer of mobile networks, yesterday moved to lay off the bulk of its employees, sparking uproar among its labor union.

The labor union, which was mobilized June 5, said Ericsson's mass layoff is illegal under the Korean labor law.

It said the company ordered 19 employees to accept two-month "paid administrative leave" and told 10 employees to prepare for the planned layoff. Ericsson Korea's total employees number 87 (including 4 foreign workers and 5 temporary employees).

Ericsson's labor union said paid administrative leave is a stage that leads to layoff and once the term of the leave is complete, all the employees involved could be laid off immediately.

The unusual labor dispute at a subsidiary of a foreign company in Korea came after Ericsson has lost face in the booming domestic wireless equipment market twice in recent months.

Late last month, Ericsson was booted out of the W-CDMA third-generation mobile equipment bidding for KT ICOM, a mobile unit of telecom giant KT Corp. Ericsson swallowed the bitter defeat while its competitors - LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Nortel Networks - passed the bidding to proceed to the final round.

Given that Korea belongs to the early adopter group in terms of W-CDMA 3G service, Ericsson's disqualification for KT ICOM's bidding was forecast to undermine its corporate image in the domestic market and elsewhere.

More importantly, Ericsson was expected to restructure its Seoul office as a result of its failure in the bidding for the much-coveted mobile unit.

Prior to the botched bidding for KT ICOM, Ericsson failed to pass the second round of equipment bidding for its W-CDMA 3G service for SK IMT, a unit of top mobile carrier SK Telecom, May 10.

The two defeats in a month were expected to jolt Ericsson Korea and its headquarters in Sweden. However, an Ericsson official in Seoul said that the company is a supplier for 36 mobile carriers, which means the disqualification in Seoul would not lead to a significant loss.

It remains to be seen whether the two failures to win the 3G equipment bidding in Korea have any tangible impact on the overall operations of the Swedish company. But what's certain is that its Korean subsidiary is reeling and its local employees in Seoul are fuming over the mass layoff.

Ericsson's labor union said the company sent an e-mail to 50 employees June 4, encouraging them to resign voluntarily. "The company threatened to force a layoff after a one-month interval unless employees submit resignation letters by June 7," the labor union said.

"Mass layoff requires a negotiation with the representatives of employees and the company should do its best to minimize such layoffs under the legal regulations, but Ericsson did not follow the rules and attempted to sack employees by force," it said.

Ericsson was originally set to lay off 10 employees in September and if the 50 employees who received the forceful e-mail are included, the company has tried to eliminate about 60 employees, the labor union said.

"It is shocking that a multinational company based in Sweden where social welfare and laborer's right are well protected, commits illegal layoffs in Korea," the union claimed.

It said Ericsson Korea still has room to do business in a variety of fields in the Korean market despite the failures to win the 3G equipment bidding.

Ericsson Korea, established in 1982, is a major telecom equipment maker in the domestic market, with its major items ranging from backbone network gear to Bluetooth to 3G handset production technologies.

Korea is leading the world in CDMA-based 3G services, known as cdma2000 1x. Recently, KTF and SK Telecom launched an upgrade of cdma200 1x, the so-called EV-DO service, which jacks up the data transmission speed to 2.4Mbps under ideal conditions.

The Korean government is taking steps to ensure that both cdma2000 and W-CDMA 3G services flourish here in a way that helps major handset, system manufacturers and carriers make inroads into overseas markets. (insight@koreaherald.co.kr) Source : Korea Herald - 2002.06.21

 

- INFORMATION MINISTRY UNVEILS ACTION PLANS FOR 'HUB OF NORTHEAST ASIA' PROJECTS

The Ministry of Information and Communication yesterday announced plans aimed at transforming Korea into a digital hub of Northeast Asia.

The ministry said its action plans are designed to work in line with the government's overall business hub strategy. A host of government agencies are closely cooperating to coordinate the hub strategy at a time when Northeast Asia is emerging as a key business area in the world.

In detail, the ministry put forward four action plans: the hosting of foreign IT companies and investment; Northeast Asia telecom hub project; the establishment of IT and digital media centers; and Northeast Asia's central digital media industry.

The four action plans will be submitted to the government's economic policy coordination meeting in mid-July for final confirmation.

The ministry said it will upgrade the standards for intellectual property right (IPR) in order to step up attracting foreign IT companies. Other telecom-related regulations would be modified and revised to meet the global standards, thereby helping foreign IT frontrunners operate their businesses smoothly in Korea.

The IPR issue has long been a headache for Korea's top policymakers and foreign businessmen since the rampant circulation of pirated software and solutions has stifled fair competition.

The ministry said it will push for a revision to the computer program protection law in order to further protect copyright holders and step up monitoring the market to detect and punish those who distribute illegal software titles.

Another issue is how to streamline the complicated telecom business licensing procedures to ensure market-friendly environment.

The ministry said it will simplify the licensing procedures for the domestic telecom market and improve the interconnection fee systems so that foreign companies can operate their businesses here under fairer market conditions.

Conversely, it said it will ratchet up its market-opening campaign in other countries in order to help Korean IT players make inroads into overseas markets.

The ministry is also pushing for a set of education programs to help foreign companies secure seasoned IT engineers and technicians here. More IT engineers will be given chances to get education programs overseas and exchange programs will be encouraged, the ministry said.

Scholarship and financial support are also being considered for IT engineers and experts taking courses in major universities and IT education institutes abroad.

As for the telecommunications network infrastructure upgrade, the ministry said it will continue to improve the speed and quality of broadband networks and work on the dynamic interaction with foreign networks. The long-term purpose is to make Korea's network into the central hub of Northeast Asian telecom infrastructures.

The ministry said local households will be able to hook up to the Internet whose average transmission speed is 20Mbps by 2005. And corporate clients will be connected to the network capable of delivering data at up to 622Mbps. At the same time, mobile networks will offer up to 2Mbps transmission for users, paving the way for reliable "anywhere, anytime" high-speed Internet services.

Mobile carriers are expected to expand their roaming deals with partners in other countries. Currently, Korea has roaming contracts with 35 countries including Japan, China, Hong Kong, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. The number of roaming partner countries will go up to 50 by the end of this year, the ministry said.

Given that Korea's booming broadband and IT industries draw keen interest from foreign IT companies, the ministry plans to upgrade IDC (Internet data center) infrastructure in an attempt to help foreign IT firms utilize the Korean market as their test-bed.

Another major pillar for the ministry's hub projects is to nurture IT and digital media centers. Several local governments are now pushing forward with their own digital center projects, reflecting the importance of the knowledge-based industry in propping up local economies.

The Seoul government, for instance, is moving ahead with the establishment of Digital Media City (DMC), a new development on the site of a former landfill, in order to attract both domestic and foreign investment for high-tech businesses.

The grand project, which will be completed by 2010, is expected to turn the Sangam area into a future-oriented incubation hotbed for promising startups and technology venture firms.

The Seoul government's vision is that DMC will kickstart digital media and related businesses, reshaping the country's role in the high-tech sectors. Korea is clearly at the forefront of mobile phone and semiconductor businesses, but lacks software and digital infrastructure where margins are generally far greater than manufacturing businesses.

The information ministry said it will select major IT and digital media centers and then designate them as "IT Town" for offering systematic support.

It said it also plans to help digital media developers and content providers forge partnership with foreign companies as part of efforts to set up a global digital media network.

The Korean government's long-term vision, of course, is to turn the digital media centers into the central digital hub of Northeast Asia. To that end, digital media industries (including movies, music, games) should join forces with information and digital technologies, the ministry said.

The Korea Contents Resource Center (KCRC) will be established to combine media contents and digital technologies, setting the stage for the digitalization of related industries such as animation, publishing and broadcasting.

The hub projects are now expected to go hand in hand with the ministry's "Global leader, e-Korea project," aimed at upgrading the country's information technology infrastructure.

The ministry is also pushing for greater cooperation in the Asia Pacific region in the IT sector so that Asian countries' information and communication networks can become interlinked and be fully utilized.

With the info-tech industry charging ahead on the export front, the ministry projected CDMA (code division multiple access), broadband Internet, SI (system integration) and other key technology sectors combined will post $51 billion and a trade surplus of $15 billion in 2002.

Under the new slogan of "Global leader, e-Korea," MIC plans to channel investment funds valued at 12.75 trillion won from both the public and private sectors into the info-tech industry this year, while accelerating research and development projects for the digitalization of the public sector in the first half.

The number of mobile phone users has also skyrocketed to more than 30 million, surpassing that of fixed-line subscribers, set at 22.95 million, as of end-March of this year. The figure was 26.82 million in end-1998 and 1.64 million in end-1995.

On the online front, MIC data show that 51.5 percent of the total population, or 24.38 million people, are Internet users, one of the world's largest penetration rates. The figure was 3.1 million in end-1998.

The ministry projected the number of households using the broadband network service, which offers a surfing speed of more than 1Mbps, will be up to 10 million toward the end of this year. Source : Korea Herlad (2002.07.02)

 

- MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS OF KOREA'S E-GOVERNMENT PROGRAM

The e-government program now being carried out by the Korean government aims at reestablishing Korea as a knowledge-based information society. The program's major achievements so far are as follows.

KIPONET (Korean Intellectual Property Network)

Since early 1990s, Korea Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) has experienced a sharp increase in IP applications. As the number of IP applications reached over 200,000 in 1995, the KIPO recognized that it could not manage the workload using the traditional method of manually handling paper documents. As a solution, the office developed Korea Intellectual Property Network (KIPONET), a computerized system to automate all the IPR administration such as filing, accepting, examining, registration and publishing official gazettes. KIPONET has made possible online filing in paper or FD (floppy disk) forms, automated formality check, application classification, online inquiry service, efficient search with the use of electronic data and publication of automated official gazettes.

Real estate registration system

With the real estate market growing and the publics concerns over property rights expanding, the Supreme Court of Korea has decided to upgrade its real-estate registration services. The result is the computerization of more than two hundred million pieces of real estate. The relevant administrative procedures and services have also gone on-line. Through the information system, the public is issued certificates and real-estate registry is inspected. In addition, electronic data processing applications and all kinds of registration publications are possible at present. As a result, the time spent on registration copies issuance has been reduced in great measure; manual processing took more than two hours whereas computerized processing takes less than five minutes. Besides, registration copies can be issued from kiosks located within a five-minute walking range and multiple application processing has also become possible with this system. The system is also bringing economic benefits, reducing labor cost approximately 30 percent. Reduced time cost along with citizen's satisfaction with the improved services has created an enormous socioeconomic effect, which is expected to contribute to the enhancement of national competitiveness.

Resident registration system

The Republic of Korea has a resident registration system on births, marriages, deaths and divorces of its people and Ministry of Government Affairs and Home Affairs (MOGAHA), in partnership with local authorities is in charge of the whole service. Until 1993, every record had been kept in the form of a paper document, thus causing inconvenience and inefficiency for both citizens and government.

For this reason, a database for all the Koreans was established from 1987 till 1992 and related services and administrative procedures were also computerized. The categories of the system include resident identification number, date of birth, and change of address, which are connected to one central network with all government administrative districts placed under the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs. Through this system, related services can be delivered online, regardless of the requesters' location.

Thanks to the rapid resident information system, supplementary registration procedures can be automatically processed for only one-time moving-in registration. Citizens may benefit from fast service delivery online at home, with no need to visit government offices in person. The time spent in resident registration has been reduced to one to three minutes from 15 to 20 minutes after the system was set up.

Electronic cadastral system

Since cadastral maps were published in the early 1910s, many problems had been created in the course of providing accurate survey results with the citizens because their number constantly changed. Besides, difficulties consisted in planning, deciding and executing land policy due to discrepancy between real cadastral records and current land use. For this reason, the Korean government computerized the cadastral records.

Thirty-two million parcels have been installed in the system in digital format, and with a nationwide on-line network, the computer system readjusted modified facts in 1990. Certified copies of land or forest registration are available in any government offices no matter how distant the requester is placed. The time required for issuing certifying documents has also been reduced from 30 minutes to only five minutes.

Motor vehicle information system

With the number of vehicles increasing, the necessity to find a systematic way of managing and controlling the administrative demands has also grown. The Motor Vehicle Information System was first planned in February 1987 and the services became available in regional basis in September 1990. The vehicle information system is operated on the database ranging from vehicle registration and inspection to its disposal. Real-time search for any changes in the data is also available.

Based on computerized information, the framework of related offices has been simplified with and management condition has most improved. The governmental offices can now deliver faster services to citizens, with reduced time spent in processing a requested service from 10~ 30 minutes to only one minute. Any related information can be shared, thus supply and demand of vehicles can be estimated, countermeasures in times of emergency can be worked out, and sources of taxation can also be managed. In terms of policy establishment and decision making, real-time, accurate and active planning and implementation methods can be applied.

Local government administrative information system

Local governments or authorities are front institutions directly or indirectly interacting with citizens and businesses in Korea. However, due the legacy systems, continuous improvement in local government services through ICT was limited although the information technologies become more widely accessible and prevalent.

The local government administrative information system is now being implemented in local government administrative districts. The initial phase of this project was commenced in January 1998 and completed in 2000, with the second phase planned for completion in October 2002. Twenty-one common administrative work processes, including residence, welfare, environment, taxation, civil defense and forestry, were simplified through BPR and standardization for better work efficiency of the local governments. Currently in the third phase of implementation, the application expansion and local government administrative information system also enable each office to share related information.

It is very significant that with this project implementation, citizen-oriented services have been made possible through information sharing, elimination of paper documents and reduction of service delivery services. The information required in administration enhances the speed of decision-making process, transparency in decision-making and efficiency.

E-service center (G4C)

E-government is compelling, encompassing and delivering integrated services for education, public safety, tax filing and procurement. To provide seamless services, the Korean government has integrated and extended so-called "stovepipe" government legacy systems.

Five major pillars of national database regarding residence, real estate, vehicle, corporations, and taxation will be integrated in an information sharing system. This project, which started from September 2000, will achieve one-stop and non-stop civil service before long. With the construction of an electronic government service center, citizens will no longer need to visit several government offices to request services that require complicated documentation.

Citizens may benefit from more convenient and cost-saving visit to government offices. With the complete implementation of this project, the average number of documents required for resident registration of one person is expected to decrease from 1.9 to 0.1, and the average number of visits from 4.5 to 1.2. Also, with the construction of the informatization infrastructure and e-document system, Koreas national informatization will firmly establish the basis for further development. By actively sharing the information and preventing duplicated construction of the same database system, the project will also bring about cost-saving implementation of the budget as well as enhanced efficiency of the government administration.

EDI Customs Clearance Automation

Information technology has been transforming the means by which Customs carries out its traditional role of controlling revenue collection. To keep pace with the development of information technology, the Korea Customs Services (KCS) has been endeavoring to adopt state-of-the-art technology. And the EDI Customs Clearance Automation System has been developed to process customs clearance business through EDI.

With the EDI Customs Clearance Automation System, export customs clearance, import customs clearance, provision of export/import declaration information, export/import cargo management and tariff return have been made possible. Export/import declaration information service aims at providing detailed information on KTNET's customs clearance information service through the Web site (http://kcis.ktnet.co.kr) with trading companies.

Tariff is returned when the customs office returns the whole or part of the tariff already levied to an export company at the time of meeting specific requirements. The trading company requests for the return through EDI to the customs office and a bank deposits the tariff return to the company's account.

The EDI Customs Clearance Automation System has several benefits. Above anything else, transparent business management can deliver high quality service to the client. If the business process is open to the public, Customs will make efforts to process it more promptly and correctly. In addition, the trading communities may enjoy the benefits from high quality services with the increase of their competitiveness. The EDI Customs Clearance Automation System has also contributed to the reduction of time and budget for customs clearance.

Passport Issuance System

Various information systems of related ministries have been integrated into the passport issuance information system. This integrated system for passport issuance has contributed to citizen's sharing and viewing information, thus enabling one-stop service to the citizens' satisfaction. Before the installation of this system, citizens had to visit each government office to be issued required documents.

Through information sharing among related government offices, the passport issuance information system operates in one direct way, not only receiving issuance applications but also inputting personal identity information as well as other necessary information.

As a consequence, the number of required documents decreased from four to one, the time required for the process was reduced from 2~3 days to two hours, and the number of annually circulated paper documents decreased by four million.

Immigration Information System

Korea's first immigration informatization, one of the leading information systems compared to other government offices started in 1980. However, as information technology grew rapidly and the main computer then used for the immigration information system stopped being produced, causing lack of technological support and application exchanges with other computers. In order to cope with the rapidly changing information society and the increasing demand of immigration informatization, the Korean Government has established a plan to construct a new immigration information system.

This system aims at establishing a more efficient immigration database management of Korean nationals and foreigners, enhancing work-productivity through information sharing and fast service delivery to citizens. The system inspects passports, visas and immigrant qualifications for traveling abroad or staying in Korea, searches for illegal immigrants and even keeps track of their location when necessary with the use of the automatic information searching system of the immigration information system.

Through integrated management system of information and its sharing, work efficiency has been greatly improved. Together with enhanced information security technologies, the system has offered better working environment as well as better service to the citizens. A strengthened information sharing system has also contributed to the improvement of work efficiency. Source : Korea Herald - 2002.07.04

 

- SMT TAKES OVER DAEWOO COMPUTER

Seoul Mobile Telecom (SMT) yesterday secured its managerial rights over Daewoo Computer as it took over 40.75 percent of the former subsidiary of the Daewoo group.

Through the deal, SMT will diversify into personal computer manufacturing as well as maintain its presence in the key communications business.

``The takeover will enable us to expand our business territory beyond services to include manufacturing,'' said SMT president Park Cha-oung,

A SMT spokesman pointed out that SMT would seek to develop high-end computers,saying `` we will develop mobile computer devices capable of accessing the Internet over high-speed wireless networks.''

He added, ``The personal computer manufacturing unit will complement our sibling firms, Seoul Technology and Iloveschool.''

``We plan to reinforce production of computer components in preparation for an Internet shopping mall, which we will open in a few months,'' he said.

SMT expects Daewoo to post 80 billion won in sales next year and 100 billion won in 2004, consolidating its status as a value added producer.

Daewoo Computer was spun off from its mother company Daewoo Telecom through an employee buy-out.

The former pager service operator SMT is currently running an online lottery called ``Big Dream,'' and also integrating online businesses. kt-kim@koreatimes.co.kr Source : Korea times - 15/07/02

 

- ROK TO BECOME NO. 7 BIOTECH POWERHOUSE BY 2010

South Korea will implement an industrial development strategy to foster the nation as the world's top seven global biotechnology powerhouses with its global market share of 10 percent by the year 2010. Commerce-Industry-Energy Minister made the remark in a meeting with CEOs of the domestic biotechnology companies yesterday in Seoul.

Shin said the government plans to raise Korea's share in the world market to 10 percent from the current 1.4 percent. He said he plans to recommend President Kim Dae-jung to preside over a regular biotech strategic conference. It will also set up a ``Biotech Industry Round Table'' along with the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI).

The domestic biotech market is expected to reach 15 trillion won, with exports of $6.5 billion. A total of 1,500 biotech companies will create 70,000 new jobs by 2010, he predicted.

The domestic biotech industry, which currently has a market size of some 1.7 trillion won ($1.41 billion) and roughly 450 companies, still lags far behind those in advanced nations like the U.S., the U.K. and Japan.

Korea ranks 14th in the global biotech market, one notch behind China, and the general technology competitiveness stands at only 60 percent that of developed countries.

The government has also decided to increase Bio Venture Funds to 200 billion won in 2005 from last year's 40 billion won and inject 250 billion won into the industry's four core sectors, including biomaterials and bio health treatments, to develop 11 new technologies by 2010.

The government will introduce a quality certification labeling system for new biotech products and technologies, while opening an Internet bio-shopping mall and building an integrated bio-information network by next year.

As a medium and long term scheme, the government will arrange an exclusive bio-complex for foreign biotech companies in ``Bio Venture Town,'' which will be built in the Research Complex in Taedok, Teajon, this year.

For the training of bio-experts, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE) plans to set up a graduate school specializing in biotechnology by 2005, and is also reviewing giving more biotech experts the privileged special exemption from military service. By Kim Sung-jin, sjkim@koreatimes.co.kr - Source : Korea Times - 27/06/2002

 

- KOREAN FIRM PLANNING EUROPEAN ROLL-OUT

Kunpoong Bio of South Korea is turning to Europe as the next major market for its chitosan oligosaccharide product, which it claims has a 50 per cent share of the domestic market for chitosan-based raw materials. The company has been exporting to Japan for 10 years, but this will be the first time it has ventured outside Asia.

Kunpoong Bio claims that its ingredient, Chitoligo-C, differs from other polymeric chitosan derivatives in that it has a low molecular weight and is water-soluble, extending its versatility for use in a number of different food and dietary supplement formats.

Like other forms of chitosan, it can act as a cholesterol-binder in the gastrointestinal tract and is claimed to achieve a reduction in cholesterol absorption by causing ingested fat to be passed in the faeces. However, Kunpoong does not emphasise this property, preferring instead to focus on the product's bifidogenic prebiotic effect which it claims is more potent than that of oligofructose.

The company also claims that Chitoligo-C has been shown to reduce post-prandial hyperglycemia in a rat model of type 2 (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes, as well as reduce total cholesterol and triglycerides and boost immunity (elevating natural killer cell activity) in other animal studies. The addition of vitamin C to the molecule also provides antioxidant activity, according to the firm, while there are indications that the ingredient can support liver function, offsetting hepatic damage caused by chronic alcohol ingestion in mice.

Aside from these activities, Kunpoong also claims a significant safety advantage over polymeric forms of chitosan, in that Chitoligo-C does not affect the excretion of fat-soluble vitamins and mineral salts. This effect has been observed with other forms of chitosan and could lead to bone mineral density problems with protracted use, said Sun-Ho Kim, Kunpoong's director of marketing and business development, adding that polymeric chitosan is not allowed to be used as a health food ingredient in Korea because of this property.

Kunpoong has targeted the markets in Italy, Spain and Portugal, where Chitoligo-C is already available via distributors, and is looking to break into France and Germany. In Italy, the Docteur Nature company launched Nocalory capsules containing Chitoligo-C two years back, while Spanish firm Nutraceuticos has also become a customer. In Japan, Chitoligo-C appears in products sold by Kobayashi Pharmaceutical, while in Korea it is found in a range of supplements and foods such as beverages, yoghurt, snacks and porridge. Source : NutraIngredients.com - 16/07/02

 

- IBA VEND UN SYSTEME DE PROTONTHERAPIE EN COREE

C'est à Ion Beam Applications (IBA) que la direction générale du National Cancer Center (NCC) coréen a finalement attribué le contrat de fourniture, d'installation et de mise en route d'un système de protonthérapie (PT) pour lequel un appel d'offre international avait été lancé précédemment, en vue d'équiper un hôpital inauguré l'an dernier à Seoul. En l'occurrence, le groupe belge, qui avait déjà conclu en Corée du sud deux contrats de ce type en fin d'année dernière, a eu la préférence sur plusieurs géants de l'industrie, au rang desquels les Japonais Hitachi et Mitsubishi. Le système commandé par le NCC comprend un cyclotron "cyclone" 230 MeV et trois salles de traitement. IBA est resté discret sur les termes financiers de la transaction, mais s'agissant d'un système PT "moyen", on peut l'estimer entre 30 et 35 millions d'EUR. La première salle devrait en principe être opérationnelle à partir de 2005. Source : L'Echo - 10/07/02

 

- LA RECOMPOSITION RECENTE DE L'INDUSTRIE AUTOMOBILE COREENNE MODIFIE LES STRATEGIES MONDIALES DE SES CONSTRUCTEURS

Aujourd'hui, l'industrie automobile coréenne compte trois constructeurs appartenant à des alliances globales - Hyundai/DC, Daewoo/GM, Renault Samsung/Renault - et un indépendant, Ssangyong (SSG). Cette recomposition récente de l'industrie affecte sensiblement la stratégie et les positions mondiales des constructeurs coréens.

Hyundai Motor : le groupe Hyundai Motor (HM) est le plus imposant des acteurs coréens. Celui-ci, conjointement avec Kia Motor a produit l'année dernière 2,3 Moi de véhicules (dont 800 000 via Kia) et en a exporté la moitié (800 000 pour HM seul). Concomitamment à sa rupture avec l'ancien groupe Hyundai (avril 2001), HM s'est constitué un véritable empire qui intègre une grande partie des activités du secteur. Ainsi, avec 14 filiales, HM couvre la totalité de la chaîne de valeur, de la fourniture d'aluminium au transport maritime. Parallèlement à la constitution de ce groupe, HM s'est allié le 26 juin 2000 à DaimlerChrysler (DC). Via cet accord stratégique, DC a acquis 9 % du capital de HM (pour 428 M USD) avec l'option de porter sa participation à 15%. Mitsubishi, ayant déjà une participation de 4,3%, DC pourrait contrôler 20% du capital de HM. Cette alliance donne aujourd'hui ses premiers fruits. Ainsi Global Engine Alliance, une co-entreprise nouvellement créée, concevra et développera aux Etats-Unis des moteurs communs à plusieurs des marques du groupe. De même, une JV commune assurera le développement de moteurs pour véhicules commerciaux. Seul HM se repositionne sur l'échiquier mondial. Très actif aux Etats-Unis, HM vient d'y lancer la construction d'une usine. En Chine, où il était jusqu'ici étonnement absent, HM a récemment signé un accord avec Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co visant à la création d'une JV dont la capacité de production devrait atteindre 200 000 unités en 2005 et 500 000 unités en 2010.

HYUNDAI MOTORS

HM et Kia : 9ème producteur mondial en 2001

Objectif 2010 : se hisser à la 5ème place

Filiales de HM : Kia ; Hyundai Mobis (équipementier, distributeur) ; Hyundai Powertech, Wia Corporation et Korea Precision Industrial (trois équipementiers) ; Autoever.com ; Korea Logitech (opérateur logistique) ; Inchon Iron&Steel, Hyundai Hysco et Sammi Steel ; Hyundai Aerospace, Rotem (matériel roulant ferroviaire) ; Hyundai Merchant Maritime

Actionnariat de Hyundai

Hyundai Mobis 11,5%
DMC 10,5%
Inchon & Steel 4,9%
Mistusbishi 4,3%
Invest. étrangers 54%

Source : Nice, Juin 2002

Daewoo Motor : Sur les 27 unités de commercialisation (27 pays) et 15 usines de production de Daewoo (12 pays), sont concernés par l'accord de reprise signé par DM seulement deux usines de Corée du Sud (d'une capacité de 520 000 véhicules et 40 000 utilitaires par an) et celle du Vietnam (20 000), ainsi que 9 filiales commerciales (Autriche, Benelux, France, Allemagne, Italie, Porto Rico, Espagne, Suisse), plus la partie pièces détachées située aux Pays-Bas. Quant à la marque Daewoo, celle-ci subsiste en Corée, dans les pays où les filiales commerciales ont été acquises, ainsi que dans certains pays où des distributeurs indépendants sont mandatés. GM, qui compte sur ce rachat pour renforcer sa position en Asie, pourrait dès 2003 lancer la production de modèles Daewoo dans son usine de Shanghai. Il n'est pas non plus exclu que des plates-formes de Matiz et de Kalos soient envoyées vers les usines du groupe implantées au Mexique et au Brésil et que d'autres modèles soient équipés d'un moteur diesel d'origine Isuzu (filiale à 49% de GM).

Ssangyong Motor : spécialiste du SUV, le dernier constructeur coréen indépendant est, depuis le transfert de créances en action effectué en décembre 2001 (montant de l'opération 960 M USD), détenu à 75% par les banques créancières. Quelle place reste-t-il pour un constructeur local, spécialisé sur le seul segment des SUV ?

Renault Samsung Motors : RSM, le plus petit acteur coréen, affiche des résultats encourageants et renforcera sa gamme par deux nouveaux modèles d'ici à 2005.

Nicolas VASSITCH - nicolas.vassitch@dree.org - Guillaume BRIAND - Guillaume.briand@dree.org

Europe Occidentale : Volontarisme de Hyundai et déséquilibre commercial eurocoréen

En 2001, les constructeurs coréens ont perdu des parts de marché en Europe de l'ouest. Par rapport à la même période de 2001, au premier quadrimestre de 2002 : leurs ventes ont chuté de 31,6% (soit -135 014 unités), ramenant leur pénétration de 3,6 à 2,5% .

Après la quasi-faillite de Daewoo, Hyundai (1,5 % du marché automobile européen) porte pour l'instant quasiment seule (avec son autre marque KIA) les ambitions de l'industrie automobile coréenne en Europe (ses ventes ont toutefois baissé de 3,3% à 243 952 unités en 2001). Hyundai a ouvert en juillet 2000 son capital au germano-américain Daimler-Chrysler (10,46% du capital de Hyundai, le groupe de Stuttgart dispose d'une option de 5% supplémentaires).

Le rachat par General Motors de Daewoo ne permettra pas forcément à ce dernier de développer une stratégie offensive marquée : General Motors doit déjà gérer Opel et Fiat, deux autres constructeurs automobiles convalescents bien implantés commercialement sur le continent. En 2001, Daewoo a réduit sa capacité de production en Pologne (-3 400 emplois sur 7 800 salariés).

La conquête des marchés européens par les constructeurs automobiles coréens s'avère plus ardue que prévu. La baisse des achats de véhicules coréens est due à 5 facteurs principaux : 1/ les difficultés de Daewoo (ventes divisées par deux), 2/ le manque de disponibilité de véhicules à motorisation Diesel, 3/ la faiblesse des réseaux de distribution des marques coréennes (à l'exception de celui de Hyundai qui se renforce), 4/ une " image bas de gamme " , 5/la relative sur-évaluation du won sudcoréen par rapport à l'Euro.

Hyundai n'en est pas moins déterminé à progresser sur ce marché. Au niveau commercial, la nouvelle offensive coréenne repose sur une offre plus complète de véhicules combinée avec deux objectifs (extension du réseau de distribution, projet de promotions spéciales dans la grande distribution, ventes dans centres multi-marques).

Au niveau industriel, le dessein coréen consiste à faire des PECO leur " base arrière industrielle ". Daewoo était déjà installée dans ces pays (Pologne, Roumanie) depuis le milieu des années 90. Aujourd'hui, Hyundai négocie avec l'agence tchèque Czechinvest un investissement d'un montant d'1 Mrd dans le nord-est du pays. Au niveau technologique, voulant proposer des véhicules comparable dans leur conception aux voitures européennes, Hyundai entend bénéficier de partenariats avec un grand nombre d'équipementiers allemands. C'est tout le sens de l'important centre de recherche qu'elle vient d'inaugurer en Allemagne (18 420 m², 38 M d' d'investissements, 300 designers et 200 chercheurs).

La moitié du déficit commercial entre l'UE et la Corée est constitué de véhicules automobiles. En 2001, la part de marché des constructeurs automobiles coréens en Europe était de 2,5% contre 0,15% pour les européens en Corée.

Luc BOYER - luc.boyer@dree.org

Russie-CEI-Iran : DAEWOO, premier étranger sur la zone

Les constructeurs sud-coréens sont très présents sur la zone. Au plan commercial, Daewoo arrive en tête des ventes étrangères dans la plupart des pays, y compris et surtout en Russie, principal marché de la région. Si sa part du marché russe avait tendance à s'effriter ces derniers temps, il semblerait que le déclin ait été enrayé début 2002. Ceci grâce au seul modèle Nexia qui, avec 3254 unités vendues en Russie au 1er trimestre 2002, est le modèle étranger qui rencontre le plus franc succès, devant la Skoda Octavia (1303 unités). Dans ce contexte, Kia et Hyundaï apparaissent en retrait.

Au plan industriel, Daewoo est présent en Ukraine, Ouzbékistan et Iran, au travers de JV. Ces centres d'assemblage ne seraient toutefois pas repris par GM au titre de l'accord signé en avril 2002 et la question de leur devenir est en suspens. La capacité de production de ces sites est respectivement de 145000, 125000 et 24000 voitures. Leurs résultats sont en deçà des prévisions : 14810 (dont 3230 Daewoo), 38000 et 17000 en 2001. Hyundaï et Kia assemblent en Russie, sous licence. Leurs volumes pour 2001 sont faibles : 2781 KIA chez Avtotor à Kaliningrad, 2500 Hyundaï chez Doninvest à Taganrog, aussi partenaire de Citroën (Berlingo).

Si la présence industrielle de Daewoo en Iran est motivée par les difficultés d'accès au marché, son implantation dans les pays de la CEI répond avant tout à une stratégie de contournement visant essentiellement à accéder au marché russe à des conditions fiscales et douanières préférentielles.

Marc CAGNARD - marc.cagnard@dree.org

Proche-Orient- Maghreb : Une présence marquée, hors Maghreb

Biens implantées en Egypte et en Turquie, les marques coréennes ont également une présence notable sur les autres marchés du sud-est de la Méditerranée mais sont quasiment absentes du Maghreb. C'est en Egypte que la présence coréenne est la plus marquée, Daewoo est leader avec une part de marché de 22 % et plus de 10 000 véhicules particuliers vendus en 2001. En Turquie, les marques coréennes ont capté 6,5 % du marché (VP + VUL) en 2001, en baisse de 0,5 point par rapport à 2000. Les ventes de véhicules coréens ont atteint 44 300 unités en 2000 puis se sont effondrées, comme le marché, à 11 100 unités en 2001. Hyundai représente 90 % des ventes coréennes en Turquie, devant Kia, alors que Daewoo est peu représenté. Par ailleurs, les firmes coréennes dominent l'étroit marché syrien, alors qu'en Israël, Hyundai se classe au 4ème rang des ventes derrière Mazda, Volkswagen et Renault (14 000 unités).

En Egypte, les constructeurs coréens assemblent des véhicules de marque Hyundai et Daewoo. Hyundai assemble le modèle Accent tandis que Daewoo assemble les modèles Lanos, Lubira et Legaza. Cependant, malgré la domination de Daewoo sur ce marché, il semble que son usine d'assemblage soit exclue du contrat de rachat global de cette firme par General Motors.

En Turquie, Hyundai a installé une usine de production et conduit actuellement des investissements. Hyundai produit depuis 1997, à Izmit, son véhicule particulier Accent et son utilitaire léger H100. Actuellement Hyundai est en phase d'investissement en vue de produire en Turquie son utilitaire léger STAREX dont la production en série doit débuter au cours de l'année 2003. L'investissement correspondant est évalué à 50 M USD.

Alain BOUILLOUX-LAFONT - alain.bouilloux-lafont@dree.org

Afrique : Une présence coréenne encore faible sur le continent

Contrairement aux Japonais, très actifs en Afrique, les constructeurs coréens sont encore peu présents sur ce continent, où ils ne jouissent pas d'une bonne notoriété. Cependant, certains comme KIA, souhaitent accroître leur part de marché, notamment dans le segment des VP de petites et moyenne tailles ainsi que sur celui des petits VU et pick-up. En Afrique australe, les constructeurs coréens souffrent, aujourd'hui, de l'impact négatif en termes d'image, de la fermeture de l'usine d'assemblage de HYUNDAI au Botswana, survenue début 2000.

KIA a affiché des intentions assez fortes sur l'ensemble du continent à concrétiser à l'horizon 2005. HYUNDAI tente timidement de revenir dans cette région, sur le plan commercial uniquement. Enfin, DAEWOO a vu ses ventes chuter de façon impressionnante dans le pays, depuis 1999.

Sur le reste du continent, où les quatre grandes marques coréennes sont également installées, les positions divergent. DAEWOO est un des leaders au Nigeria alors que KIA et HYUNDAI sont très en retrait. En Angola, cette situation est inversée au détriment de DAEWOO.

En Afrique du Sud, les constructeurs coréens ne représentent plus qu'1% des ventes.

KIA vient d'ouvrir, en Afrique du Sud, un centre de distribution de pièces détachées pour l'ensemble de l'Afrique sub-saharienne.

Eric FAJOLE - eric.fajole@dree.org

Amérique du Nord : A marche forcée

Au terme d'une 1ère incursion sur le marché américain au début des années 80, les constructeurs coréens ont connu, jusqu'en 1996, une relative traversée du désert. Leur récente montée en puissance n'en est que plus spectaculaire, en dépit des déboires de Daewoo : au cours des 5 dernières années, les ventes de Hyundai aux Etats-Unis ont progressé de 32% par an, celle de KIA de 45%! En 2001, Hyundai seul y a commercialisé 350 000 véhicules, une croissance de 42 % par rapport à 2000 (170 000 unités pour KIA). De janvier à avril 2002, sa progression est de 17,3 % par rapport au 1er tiers de l'année 2001 (+25,7 % pour KIA). L'ensemble Hyundai-KIA détient aujourd'hui 3,7% du marché et talonne les " big six " (GM, Ford, DCC, Toyota, Honda, Nissan). Or, si sa 1ère percée avait peu duré, 2 facteurs plaident en faveur de la pérennité de cette nouvelle embellie.

D'une part, l'attractivité des modèles proposés par le groupe de Chung Mong-Koo ne cesse de croître. Alors que les succès du Hyundai Santa Fe et du KIA Sedona ne se démentent pas, leurs créateurs s'apprêtent à frapper un grand coup avec l'introduction du SUV Sorento, dont KIA entend commercialiser 50 000 unités / an, et la mise au point d'une berline Hyundai haut de gamme dérivée du concept HCD-7. La qualité des véhicules coréens, historiquement positionnés en bas de gamme, étonne l'Amérique: la vente du Santa Fe est accompagnée - audace inouïe - d'une garantie moteur + transmission de 10 ans. Le Sedona, pour sa part, vient de surpasser l'inoxydable Honda Odyssée dans la dernière enquête de satisfaction de l'agence AutoPacific.

D'autre part, Hyundai a décidé, en mars dernier, de construire à Montgomery, Alabama, sa 1ère unité de production greenfield aux Etats-Unis. Cette usine, qui suppose un investissement supérieur au milliard de $ et entrera en activité en 2005, est appelée à assembler annuellement 300 000 véhicules et devrait permettre au numéro 1 coréen de franchir un nouveau palier de ce côté-ci du Pacifique. Hyundai y fabriquera une version plus courte du Santa Fe et une berline dérivée du modèle Sonata.

Cette progression ne doit rien aux alliances américaines des Coréens : Daimler Chrysler, qui détient 10 % du capital du constructeur d'Ulsan, a d'autres priorités; rien n'indique d'ailleurs que GM, qui a pris soin d'exclure du " Daewoo deal " les concessionnaires américains de ce dernier, entende sauver Daewoo Motor America.

 

La future unité de production Hyundai-USA en chiffres

Coût : 1 Md USD
Aides publiques : 123 M USD
Autofinancement : 700 M USD
Emplois directs : 2 000
Emplois indirects : 5 000
Production : 300 000 véhicules
Démarrage production : 2005
Date d'amortissement : 2010

Jean-Jacques GUILLAUDEAU - jean-jacques.guillaudeau@dree.org

Amérique du Sud : Une présence discrète...qui devrait le rester.

Les constructeurs coréens réalisent l'essentiel de leurs ventes sud-américaines dans les pays de la côte Pacifique. En Colombie, au Pérou et en Equateur, leurs parts de marché respectives ont ainsi été en 2001 de 16,8%, 15,4% et 14,9%. Si leur présence est relativement équilibrée en Colombie, elle repose essentiellement sur Daewoo au Pérou et sur Hyundai en Equateur. Le constructeur équatorien Aymesa assemble des Kia Sportage Wagon depuis mars 2001, dans l'une des deux seules unités sud-américaines de montage de véhicules coréens, avec celle de MMC au Venezuela, dans laquelle ont été assemblés 12 227 véhicules de la marque Hyundai en 2001. Si les ventes vénézuéliennes de véhicules coréens ont atteint 32 480 unités en 2001, elles ne devraient toutefois pas dépasser 5 000 unités en 2002.

La présence des constructeurs coréens sur les marchés des pays membres ou associés du Mercosul est nettement moins significative. En Uruguay, les parts de marché de Hyundai et Daewoo en 2001 ont respectivement atteint 3,4% et 1,1% ; Daewoo se distingue toutefois sur le marché des utilitaires lourds (32% de part de marché). En Bolivie, la pénétration des marques coréennes, devant faire face à une forte contrebande et au trafic de voitures volées, se heurte à une mauvaise image de marque, véhiculée en outre par les nombreux taxis bas de gammes importés d'occasion. En Argentine, les constructeurs coréens, s'ils n'ont pas échappé à la crise, ont augmenté leur part de marché de 1,9% en 2000 à 2,3% en 2001, du fait d'une diminution de leurs ventes (31%) inférieure à la moyenne (43%). Au Brésil, la part de

marché des constructeurs coréens n'atteint pas 1% et est essentiellement imputable à Kia Motors et Hyundai.

Les ventes des constructeurs coréens en Amérique du Sud

12 422 véhicules coréens ont été produits en 2001 en Amérique du Sud (12 227 Hyundai au Venezuela par MMC, et 195 Kia Motors en Equateur par Aymesa).

Le projet d'implantation de Hyundai (Kia Motors) au Brésil, suspendu au règlement du contentieux opposant Asia Motors au gouvernement fédéral et à l'Etat de Bahia (abandon du projet d'implantation alors que les autorités avaient engagé de lourds investissements), semble aujourd'hui compromis, tout comme celui visant produire un véhicule Hyundai dans l'usine DaimlerChrysler de Campo Largo (Etat du Paraná), fermée en avril 2001.

Vincent DUCOS - vincent.ducos@dree.org

En Asie, les coréens restent discrets

En Asie, l'industrie automobile coréenne se concentre essentiellement sur son marché domestique - très dynamique en ce début d'année - encore largement dominé par le groupe Hyundai. Sur 285 500 véhicules de tourisme vendus au premier trimestre, Hyundai conjointement avec Kia détenait 68% de PDM (respectivement 45% et 23%), laissant Daewoo et Ssangyong avec 12% et Renault Samsung avec 9%. Soutenu, voire dynamisé, par une économie en pleine effervescence (5% de croissance prévue cette année) et par des mesures gouvernementales incitatrices (réduction des droits d'accises valable jusqu'en août 2002), le moral de la population, évalué par l'indice de confiance, atteint des niveaux records (109,4). L'impact sur les ventes est direct : les ventes de petits modèles s'écroulent au profit des gros modèles. La PDM de véhicules de moins de 800 cm3 est aujourd'hui de 7,4% contre 27,5% en 1998. Au cours de la même période les ventes de SUV et autres mini-vans s'envolaient, respectivement 65 700 et 54 800 unités, soit en glissement annuel trimestriel des progressions de +54% et +40%.

Dans le reste de l'Asie, les Coréens sont relativement discrets (3% des exportations). Sur le premier marché d'Asie, le Japon, Hyundai rencontre de grandes difficultés pour se positionner. Avec 1 298 immatriculations enregistrées sur l'année fiscale 2001, les prévisions de 5 000 unités pour 2002 semblent bien optimistes. En Chine, marché pour lequel les Coréens semblent pourtant bénéficier d'un positionnement favorable, les ventes restent encore confidentielles.

Ayant longtemps privilégié l'implantation de ses sites de production sur le territoire national - à l'exception de Daewoo - l'industrie coréenne commence à revoir sa stratégie. C'est d'ailleurs cette voie que Hyundai semble vouloir privilégier pour aborder le marché chinois : sa JV chinoise devrait produire d'ici octobre les premiers modèles de son modèle phare, EF Sonata. C'est sans doute la même logique qui a conduit GM à garder dans le "panier Daewoo " l'usine du Vietnam.

Guillaume BRIAND - guillaume.briand@dree.org

Inde : Alors que Hyundai réussit fort bien, l'avenir de Daewoo apparaît incertain

En 4 ans, Hyundai Motor India s'est positionné comme leader sur les trois segments principaux du marché indien et apparaît aujourd'hui comme le constructeur automobile le plus rentable avec un profit de 2,1 milliards de INR (environ 50 M ) en 2001-2002 sur un chiffre d'affaires de 34,03 Mds INR (près de 850 M ). Hyundai souhaite doubler sa production en 2003-04 en pariant sur l'Inde comme base pour l'Asie. Le lancement de la Getz, intermédiaire entre la Santro et l'Accent, est prévu courant 2003. Hyundai pense avoir 8 modèles en Inde en 2005.

Le leadership de Hyundai provient de sa stratégie consistant à offrir plus de valeur: un positionnement prix légèrement supérieur, mais avec des ajouts gratuits d'accessoires et un service après vente de meilleure qualité, grâce à son réseau de 110 distributeurs et 250 " points service ". Le succès de cette stratégie est aussi due au fait que Hyundai ait pénétré le marché avec une petite voiture et non une berline et que la Santro soit fabriquée à 88% à partir de composants locaux, ce qui réduit les coûts.

Depuis 1994, Daewoo avait investi 40 milliards de INR (889 millions ) dans une usine très automatisée près de Delhi pour produire la Cielo puis la Matiz. Daewoo India a souffert du dépôt de bilan de la société mère et n'est pas compris dans le plan de rachat par GM. Ses créditeurs (IDBI, ICICI et Exim Bank) ont nommé un liquidateur pour vendre les actifs de la société.

Xavier BERTRAND - xavier.bertrand@dree.org

Source : Revue Automibile de DREE n°21 - juin 2002

 

- 2ND STAGE OF SEOUL-BUSAN RAIL PROJECT TO START

The second stage of the Seoul-Busan high-speed rail project will start this month for completion by 2008, the Ministry of Construction and Transportation said yesterday.

The second stage work calls for building a high-speed rail between Daegu and Busan extending 118 km, with the project cost estimated at five trillion won.

The Korea High Speed Rail Construction Authority recently signed contracts with two construction firms to lay the roadbed in two sections. The authority said roadbed work will start in three more sections in September and another two in December.

The ministry said work for the second stage of the bullet train project can start ahead of schedule because the implementation design for the Busan-Daegu section was completed in 1999 and KHRC is close to purchasing 50 percent of the required land parcels along the new rail link.

The second stage of the rail project was originally scheduled to be completed in 2010. But President Kim Dae-jung ordered the project to accelerate last year as part of the government's bid to boost the economy through an expansion of infrastructure.

"The early implementation of the second-stage project allows construction firms to more effectively utilize their 30,000-strong workforce and construction equipment mobilized for the first-stage work," said Lee Seok-am, a director-general of the construction ministry in charge of the rail project. Source : Korea Herald - 2002.07.08

 

- EU URGED TO AGREE ON SHIPBUILDING BIDDING PRICES WITH ROK - By Seo Jee-yeon

The Seoul government yesterday urged the EU to ensure they conform to the bid pricing agreement proposed by EU shipbuilders between Korean and European shipbuilders.

Trade Minister Hwang Doo-yun made the remark before Korea and the EU are to resume talks about the simmering disputes over the alleged shipbuilding subsidy.

EU had threatened to take Korea to the World Trade Organization (WTO) late last month, claming that the Korean government subsidizes local shipbuilders, but the Seoul government called the allegations groundless. Brussels recently made an eleventh-hour return to the negotiation table before heading for the WTO.

``In the upcoming talks, both parties will mainly focus on agreed increases in shipbuilding bidding prices. In that regards, any price that is agreed upon, has to be apply to both sides equally. I sincerely hope this time that the EU will not insist again that only Korea be bound to the increased prices,'' Trade Minister Hwang said in a luncheon with members of European Union Chamber of Commerce in Korea (EUCCK) at the Westin Chosun, downtown Seoul.

A possible bidding price agreement between Korean and EU shipbuilders might trigger international controversy over price rigging or collusion, analysts here said.

The meeting was organized by the EUCCK to listen to the Korean government's response to the EUCCK Trade Issues and Recommendations 2002, an annual report issued by the EUCCK last February,

The Seoul government said yesterday it will deal with the liberalization of the legal services sector in the upcoming WTO negotiations on the opening of the local service industry in 2003.

``As scheduled for the WTO negotiations on services, the Korean government will submit an initial offer on the opening of various services industry, including the legal services market. By then, we will be able to come up with more details about how we are going to deal with this issue, '' Hwang said.

In response to the EUCCK's claims that Korea's emission control standards for diesel passenger vehicles are too strict, the trade minister said the government has pledged to find ways to make environmental rules more compatible with those of other economies in the long term.

Concerning the complaints by European pharmaceutical giants about Korea's new drug pricing system, Hwang pointed out that the misunderstanding of the different systems is a key cause to the deepening of conflicts. jyseo@koreatimes.co.kr Source : Korera Times - 05/07/02

 

- KOREAN AEROSPACE INDUSTRY TO BE INTEGRATED INTO ONE

By Nho Joon-hun

Korean aerospace companies will be integrated into one unit with the announced merger of the Korea Aerospace Industries and the aerospace business division of Korean Air.

According to sources at Korean Air, talks for the merger will begin immediately to help improve the competitiveness of the Korean aerospace industry.

``We understand that the two parties have agreed to enter into discussions for the merger of the businesses with senior officials taking charge of the negotiations,'' said one official of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy.

Korea Aerospace Industries was launched as a merger of the aerospace divisions of Samsung, Hyundai and Daewoo in 1999 and a subsequent was agree at the time.

Under the initial terms of the talks, Korean Air will inject 130 billion won in new funds into the merged company to take a controlling interest.

At present, the three companies in control of Korea Aerospace Industries have invested a total of 129.8 billion won through new rights offerings.

``It depends on how the talks will proceed but the negotiations are believed to be focused on KAL's taking over of Daewoo's shares,'' the MOCIE official said.

He went on to say that Daewoo has been looking to sell its stake in KAI and so there should be little trouble in proceeding with the talks and reaching agreement as soon as possible.

However, KAI officials said KAL will have to do more than simply take over the shares of Daewoo, indicating that some type of new funds will be necessary.

" `We have come a long way since 1999 and we posted a profit last year. For KAL to attain a controlling interest, it will have to inject new funds " one KAI official said. jakenho@koreatimes.co.kr Source : Korea Times - 05/07/02

 

- CHAEBOL LATCHING ON NEW KOREAN IMAGE - By Kim Ki-tae

Major companies such as Samsung and LG are moving to take advantage of Korea's recent improved image overseas in their brand marketing. It is a major departure from pre-World Cup reluctance to boast their national origin in overseas marketing efforts.

Exporters have so far been hesitant because they did not think promotion of their national origin could contribute positively to their export efforts overseas. But the successful World Cup has considerably enhanced the nation's image and the marketing power of the slogan `Made in Korea.'

Samsung plans to study whether a promotion campaign linking its products with the nation's improved identity would work on the global market. Till now, Samsung has focused on improving its own brand power, reluctant to publicly disclose itself and its products as from Korea.

Samsung will conduct surveys on the merits and demerits of using the national origin in its overseas branding strategy.

``We are seeking to combine the national, corporate and product images to enhance our competitiveness in the world market,'' said an official at the Samsung Economic Research Institute.

LG Electronics is also weighing the possible merits from linking its identity to Korea.

``The low awareness overseas of Korea has meant our export products are sold at a 10-20 percent discount overseas. The country's status as an information technology powerhouse and the World Cup host is expected to place our products closer to foreign customers,'' said an LG official.

LG plans to instruct its overseas sales branches to make the most of the enhanced national image depending on each country's situation.

Daewoo International also plans to launch targeted marketing activities depending on where they are.

``In continents like Europe and South America, promotions linked with the World Cup could be very effective. It is necessary to take the chance,'' a Daewoo official said.

``From the viewpoint of local business, we expect the phrase `Made in Korea' will contribute positively to our promotion campaigns in the world market with the better national image following the successful hosting of the World Cup,'' he added.

kt-kim@koreatimes.co.kr Source : Korea Times - 11/07/02

 

- HANWHA BEGINS OPERATIONS AS THREE COMPANIES

Hanwha Corp. successfully split into three separate entities - Hanwha Corp., Hanwha Construction and Hanwha Machinery - and each will begin operating independently starting today, the corporation said yesterday.

Hanwha Corp., to be headed by Lee Soon-jong, has 2.7 trillion won in capital and targets annual sales of 2.9 trillion won, while Hanwha Construction, led by Kim Hyun-joong, has capital of 1.3 trillion won and an annual sales target of 700 billion won. Hanwah Machinery, the third entity presided over by Hong Won-ki, has capital of 70 billion won and an annual sales goal of 99.1 billion won.

In line with the separation, Hanwha Corp. plans to move its headquarters to Siheung City in Gyeonggi Province, and Hanwha Machinery to Changwon City in South Gyeongsang Province.

Where business is concerned, Hanwha Corp. will focus on chemicals, spacecraft, weapons business and trade, it said. To make its structure more competitive and price-effective, the company is planning to combine its seven factories to two or three by 2004.

Hanwha Construction, on the other hand, said that it aims to become a professional industrial development company, concentrating particularly on property development. It hopes to receive orders worth 1.2 trillion won this year and to rise as one of the top 10 construction firms here next year, the company said.

Hanwha Machinery will expand its industrial and construction equipment business to the engineering sector and work on penetrating foreign markets like China. It also said it will integrate with its U.S. affiliate UBI.

Hanwha Corp. has been formulating a three-way breakup since January to spin off its construction and machinery divisions, but delayed action fearing investor reaction. It made the final decision to pursue the separation during a shareholders meeting in March. Source : Korea Herlad (2002.07.02)

 

- SKT PULLS BACK FROM CONTROLLING KT - By Kim Deok-hyun

SK Telecom (SKT), the nation's top mobile carrier, yesterday reduced its holdings of KT stock below 10 percent ``in line with the government's wish not to meddle in management in the nation's largest fixed-line telephone operator KT.''

SKT said yesterday it has sold its 1.79 percent stake holding of KT exchangeable bonds (EBs) for 340.3 billion won to four domestic institutional investors.

The deal means SKT loses its voting rights on its remaining 9.55 percent stake in KT. Under the current law, only shareholders of KT who owns more than a 10 percent stake in the company is allowed to exercise voting rights.

Analysts said the deal meant a setback for SKT, which was recently seen maneuvering to gain the management control of KT, the nation's biggest fixed-line phone and broadband Internet operator.

Last week, outgoing KT CEO Lee Sang-chul was appointed as the information and communication minister. He commented at the time of his appointment that SKT would not be intervening in the management of KT.

In a statement, SKT said the 1.79 percent stake will be transferred to LG Investment and Securities, Samsung Securities, Daehan Investment Trust Securities and Korea Investment Trust and Management Securities.

``We have agreed with the four institutional investors to sell the stake at the over-the-counter market,'' it said.

Last May, the top mobile carrier bought 9.55 percent of common shares and acquired an additional 1.79 percent stake in the form of exchangeable bonds (EBs) in KT for some two trillion won.

Through the deal, SKT made a small 8.3 billion won profit for the sale of EBs, it said.

kdh@koreatimes.co.kr Source : Korea Times - 16/07/02

 

- SAMSUNG VEUT SE RENFORCER DANS LES MOBILES

Le groupe envisage de doubler ses investissements dans la production de portables. Il compte accroître ses ventes en unités de 43%.

Pourquoi ne pas être audacieux en dépit d'indicateurs pas toujours favorables? C'est l'attitude résolument choisie par le conglomérat sud-coréen Samsung. Le groupe envisage d'accroître ses investissements dans la téléphonie mobile, même si le marché global stagnera cette année. Il pourrait doubler ses investissements dans cette activité en injectant 150 millions de dollars supplémentaires dans la production en 2002, si les conditions de marché s'y prêtent.

La somme viendrait d'abord consolider son site sud-coréen de Kumi, situé à 200 kilomètres de Séoul. La capacité de production passerait de 36 à 50 millions d'unités par an. L'autre partie de l'investissement serait réalisée en Chine, où la production atteindrait 5 millions de portables par an contre 3 millions actuellement.

Samsung ne mise pas sur la croissance du secteur mais fait le pari de la prise de parts de marché à ses concurrents. L'industrie du téléphone portable, qui avait connu des taux de croissance de 60%, est maintenant arrivée à maturité. En 2001, le marché a reculé de 3,2% à 399,6 millions d'unités vendues, selon Gartner Dataquest. Et si début 2002 les grands de l'industrie espéraient encore une amélioration du secteur, ils se sont depuis rendus à l'évidence: 400 millions de portables seulement seront vendus cette année.

A contre-courant de la tendance, Samsung compte vendre cette année 40 millions de téléphones, en hausse de 43%. S'il y parvient, sa part de marché passerait de 7,1% en 2001 à 10%. Au premier trimestre, il a déjà réalisé une belle performance en devenant le numéro 3 du secteur avec 9,2% du marché, devant Siemens (8,8%). Toujours numéro 1, Nokia a vu sa part reculer de 2,3 points sur la période janvier-mars avec 34,7% du marché. Motorola reste loin derrière l'incontestable leader (15,5%).

Si tous les concurrents de Nokia commencent à marcher sur ses plates-bandes, la progression de Samsung reste la plus spectaculaire. Ses ventes de mobiles ont progressé de 36% l'an dernier. L'industrie du mobile est une nouvelle opportunité pour Samsung, moins heureux dans les mémoires informatiques, un secteur emporté par la crise du marché du PC. L'exercice 2001 du Coréen s'était d'ailleurs soldé par un recul du bénéfice de 51% et 2002 devrait être marqué par la stagnation du chiffre d'affaires, en raison d'une baisse anticipée du marché des puces. Source : latribune.fr - 02/07/02

 

- SAMSUNG IN BLOOM

The Korean giant hopes U.S. shoppers will start thinking 'wow' instead of 'cheapo'. Now that the World Cup tournament is over in Seoul, the round soccer ball has been replaced as the city's most inescapable emblem by the elliptical logo of South Korea's largest company: Samsung

During the tournament, its liquid-crystal-display TVs dotted public parks, drawing hundreds of soccer fans to watch the games. On the drive from Inchon airport to the city, billboard after billboard features the company's latest gadgets. Downtown, Samsung stores are everywhere, and wandering through one of them recently was Lee Ji Hyun. The 30-year-old teacher, like many Seoulites, has wallpapered her world with Samsung computers, televisions and mobile telephones. "We cannot escape from Samsung," she says. "It has digitized our life."

But across the ocean, in the world's most fertile soil for the consumer-electronics market-the United States-the story is quite different. Unless you work near the new 65-square-foot Samsung billboard in Times Square, the brand probably floats invisibly in the soup of Asian electronics manufacturers: Toshiba, Fujitsu, Matsushita ... To most Americans, Sony is the only name that stands out. Jeff Curtis, a shopper from Cleveland, owns a Sony boombox, stereo and Walkman. He says Sony's products "are consistently cool." He likes his Samsung mobile phone, but he remains skeptical about the brand's quality: "When I hear 'Samsung'," he says, "I still think 'cheapo knockoff electronics brand'."

Samsung hopes to change Curtis's perception to something more like the royal reputation it enjoys at home. Sure, it earned its poor standing in America in the '80s and early '90s, when it sold low-cost and often unreliable TVs and microwaves in discount chains. But recently, after years of working to improve quality and design, Samsung execs have sounded a new battle cry. They want to triple their $24.4 billion in worldwide revenues and, by 2005, surpass Sony, which made $58.5 billion last year. It's a bold goal, particularly at a time when most companies are trying to stay afloat amid a slumping market and sluggish economy. But it's backed by a $50 million U.S. advertising campaign this year (tag line: "DigitAll: Everyone's Invited") and a host of new gadgets. The company calls them "Wow products," and they're designed to elevate Samsung in the same way the Trinitron TV and the Walkman planted Sony in consumers' minds in the '7 0s and '80s.

THE DROOL FACTOR

Samsung is already the world's largest maker of computer memory chips, flat-panel monitors and color TVs. Recently it leapt over Germany's Siemens to become the third largest maker of mobile-phone handsets, behind Nokia and Motorola. Dae Je Chin, a 17-year company veteran and the head of the digital-media division of Samsung Electronics, wants to take advantage of Samsung's manufacturing prowess in these far-flung fields to produce devices that straddle traditional technology categories. "We have to combine computers, consumer electronics and communications as Koreans mix their rice with vegetables and meats," he says. Last year he called all 17 global marketing chiefs together in Korea and told them he wanted one such flagship item from each of them that would make consumers drool-and associate Samsung with cool, futuristic technology.

The company will introduce the Wow products in the States later this year. They include the NEXiO-a handheld computer with a five-inch screen that runs Windows, connects to the Internet and runs a spreadsheet and a word processor. The NEXiO was introduced in Korea early this year and has been selling 5,000 units a month. Bill Gates already owns one-but ironically the device will face competition from Microsoft's own Tablet PC, among others. The I500, code-named Bluechip, is also promising. It's a Palm-mobile-phone device in the style of Samsung's popular I300 and Kyocera Smartphone. But this one's the same size as a regular mobile. You don't even see the Palm-style graffiti pad until you crack open the clamshell handset. Finally, there's the Zipel, an oddly named refrigerator that has a 15-inch flat-panel touch screen tucked into the door. The display can be used to surf the Net and send or receive e-mail.

Generating some "wows" in America would cap a remarkable turnaround for the company. Though last year was among the worst ever for the consumer-electronics industry, Samsung Electronics recorded healthy profits of $2.2 billion. That's more than a 1,000 percent boost from the early 1990s, when it sold appliances to companies like RCA and GE, which slapped their logos on them and reaped most of the profits. The transformation was sparked by Kun Hee Lee, chairman of the 64-year-old Samsung Group, a Korean chaebol (conglomerate) that builds and sells a wide range of products, including skyscrapers, life insurance and bidets. In the early '90s, Lee correctly predicted that Chinese manufacturers would soon be able to produce cheaper electronics than Korean factories. He directed Samsung to sell better wares at higher prices and gathered execs together to smash their low-quality products with hammers while they shouted, "Change everything but your wife and children!" Today, 70 percent of Samsung products carry its logo.

CONSISTENT LOOK AND FEEL

The next step is to make that logo instantly recognizable in America. To that end, this year Samsung spent $15 million to sponsor the Winter Olympics. It also replaced dozens of advertising agencies with one-New York's Foote, Cone & Belding-to give a consistent look and feel to all its ads. One recent spot features father-and-son soccer fans racing not to the game, but to a public square to watch it on a Samsung TV.

But even if the ads and the Net-connected refrigerators score with U.S. consumers, Samsung Electronics faces other obstacles in its quest to unseat Sony. Samsung was listed as the 42d most valuable brand last year by the consultancy Interbrand, rising faster through the ranks than any company except Starbucks. But Sony, which declined to comment on Samsung, remained well ahead at No. 20. And Samsung still doesn't have strong entries in the few consumer-electronics segments that are doing well in today's torpid economy, like digital cameras. Though Samsung sells its popular laptops in Europe, there are no immediate plans to market them in the United States, forcing retailers like CompUSA to look elsewhere for those products.

Despite all the marketing firepower Samsung is concentrating on the United States, its best weapons in the fight to overtake Sony are converts like Tanner Goss, a salesman at a Best Buy in Silverdale, Wash. Goss bought his CD-DVD player from Samsung and advises customers to do so as well. "Samsung is competitive now because the price is so low and the quality is pretty good," he says. But only about half take his advice, and the rest retreat into the comfortable arms of Sony. For Samsung, it's a start. Source : Newsweek - 15/07/2002

 

- RENAULT SAMSUNG STARTS NEW SEDAN OUTPUT - By Samuel Len

PUSAN, South Korea, July 3 (Reuters) - Renault SA (RENA) unveiled a vehicle key to its growth in Asia on Wednesday as affiliate Renault Samsung Motors Inc of South Korea produced its first new model.

Renault Samsung Motors is viewed by analysts as a gauge of how General Motors Corp (GM), the world's largest automaker, may fare in Asia's second largest car market.

GM signed an agreement at the end of April to buy key assets from Daewoo Motor Co, South Korea's third largest automaker, in a deal which could help expand the U.S. giant's market share in Asia.

In September 2000, Renault took a 70 percent stake in a venture with local banks to revive the ailing auto arm of the Samsung Group conglomerate.

The French automaker reiterated its mid-term plans to boost output at the South Korean division to 500,000 vehicles by 2010 to tap Asia's growing auto market.

The company said the new SM3, after 21 months in development, was expected to go on sale in September with an eye to exports beginning in 2003.

The bulk of Renault Samsung's output is for domestic sales. The SM3 is a 1.5-litre compact sedan based on the Bluebird Sylphy built by Japan's Nissan Motor Co Ltd (7201).

Chief executive Jerome Stoll told reporters the success of Renault Samsung's only other model, the larger SM5 sedan, had paved the way for the company to expand.

"Our will and efforts have been vividly proved by actual results, as we captured a 30 percent share in the Korean medium and large cars market," Stoll said.

It boosted sales of the SM5, also based on Nissan technology, to 70,000 in 2001 and monthly figures have jumped this year. Renault Samsung expects 2002 sales, including the SM3, to reach 100,000 vehicles.

Break-even next year

Renault Chairman Louis Schweitzer said earlier this year that the South Korean subsidiary would break even by 2003, a year earlier than previously expected.

Stoll said sales were still on track to meet that target, although he was still unsure whether Renault Samsung Motors could break even this year.

"In 2002, the market has been quite good due to internal consumption boosted by tax incentives," Stoll said.

"But we don't know what the second half will be like," he said.

The nation's largest automaker Hyundai Motor Co (05380) reported record domestic sales in the first quarter, while sales at affiliate Kia Motors Corp (00270) rose almost ten percent over the same period, due largely to tax breaks on auto sales implemented by the government last year to boost consumption.

The tax breaks were scheduled to end in June, but the government said it last month it would extend the tax breaks until the end of August.

June sales at Renault Samsung Motors totalled 9,807 cars, down from 10,440 in May but up from 7,086 the previous year.

In the six months to June, Renault Samsung sold 53,699 cars, making an 83 percent year-on-year increase from 29,375 units sold in the same period last year.

South Korea's automobile market accounted for more than 1.4 million vehicles in sales last year, according to the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association (KAMA).

Domestic auto sales this year are seen rising 10.2 percent year on year to 1.6 million vehicles, according to KAMA. Source : Reuters - 03/07/02

 

- RENAULT : LE NOUVEAU MODELE CREE AVEC SAMSUNG MARQUE UNE AVANCEE EN COREE DU SUD

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Source : La Tribune - 04/07/2002

 

- WAL-MART, CARREFOUR VYING TO TAKE OVER NEW CORE - By Seo Jee-yeon

The U.S.-based discount chain Wal-Mart and the French retail chain Carrefour are competing to take over New Core, a local retail giant currently under court receivership.

New Core owns 10 department stores and 15 discount chains called Kim's Club nationwide.

Six consortia, including Morgan Stanley, KTB Network and Samsung Corporation, were named on June 1 as preliminary candidates for the second round of bidding to become the preferred negotiator among 59 contenders.

Wal-Mart and Carrefour have reportedly joined the bidding as members of rival consortia.

As the Samsung Corporation has been reported to have dropped out of bidding, speculation is rife that the two foreign discount chains will be the last candidates standing to vie for the take over of New Core.

Wal-Mart, which landed in Korea in 1998, has so far been fairly conservative in increasing its number of outlets. It currently has 12 branches and ranks third among foreign retailers in sales after Carrefour and Homeplus. If the company takes over Kim's Club branches, it could be competitive in size with other foreign chains.

Carrefour, the number one foreign chain in Korea boasting 22 branches, is also reported to be considering the takeover of New Core as a way to catch up with the market leader E-Mart, the nation's largest discount chain and a subsidiary of the Shinsegae group.

Consortiums, including two foreign chains, are expected to submit final proposals late this week after completing due diligence procedures, and a proffered negotiator will be announced by this month, sources said.

Meanwhile, the financial health of New Core has improved significantly in recent years, achieving operating profits of 18 billion won and 40.9 billion won in 2000 and 2001 respectively. jyseo@koreatimes.co.kr Source : Korea Times - 16/07/02

 

- ESSILOR MAINTIENT LE CAP ET SE DEVELOPPE EN ASIE

Après avoir annoncé un bon chiffre d'affaires pour le premier semestre et réaffirmé ses objectif pour 2002, Essilor se renforce en Asie grâce à la création d'un joint-venture en Corée.

Le leader mondial de l'optique réalise un bon résultat pour le premier semestre 2002 avec un chiffre d'affaires consolidé de 1,112 milliard d'euros, en hausse de 6,3% par rapport à la même période en 2001.

La publication du chiffre d'affaires au titre de son premier semestre 2002 a confirmé la bonne santé du fabricant français de verre ophtalmique. Malgré la dépréciation du dollar qui aurait, selon le groupe, un effet négatif sur son chiffre d'affaires, Essilor a confirmé s'attendre à une progression de ses ventes de 5 à 6% pour l'ensemble de l'année.

"Le niveau élevé de l'activité au premier semestre aura une incidence positive sur la marge opérationnelle en 2002 et conforte Essilor dans son objectif de progression à moyen terme de la rentabilité du groupe", a indiqué le groupe dans un communiqué.

D'autre part, Essilor International a signé une lettre d'intention avec le groupe coréen Samyung Trading Co. Ltd pour créer un joint venture à 50/50. Ce joint venture détiendra l'ensemble des activités ophtalmologiques de Samyung Trading, soit 100% du fabricant et laboratoire de prescription sud-coréen Topex et 75% de Chemiglas, numéro deux coréen du secteur des verres ophtalmiques.

Chemiglas, numéro deux coréen de l'optique ophtalmique, produit et distribue des verres sur le marché coréen ainsi qu'à l'exportation. Chemiglas est cotée sur le Kosdaq, un des principaux marchés de la Bourse de Corée.

Topex, est un fabricant et un laboratoire de prescription qui distribue les verres Varilux® et Crizal® d'Essilor auprès des opticiens de Corée.

L'entrée en Corée d'Essilor et son association avec le groupe Samyung Trading représente une étape stratégique pour trois raisons :

o La Corée est le second marché d'Asie en valeur après le Japon grâce à un mix produit riche caractérisé par une forte pénétration des matériaux à moyens et hauts indices ainsi que des antireflets.

o Les verres progressifs, force traditionnelle d'Essilor, connaissent une croissance rapide due à leur part de marché encore faible sur le segment de la presbytie.

o Les savoir faire d'Essilor et de Samyung Trading offrent des complémentarités et la collaboration des deux sociétés sera bénéfique pour le développement futur de l'industrie du verre correcteur en Corée du Sud.

Le chiffre d'affaires de la joint venture représentera 35 millions de dollars environ et son siège se situera à Séoul.

Source : La Société / La Tribune - 19/07/2002

  


 

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