Minister Urges Greater Efforts to Boost Farm Exports19 January 2012
SOUTH KOREA - South Korea's agriculture minister on Thursday urged increased efforts to boost the country's food and agricultural exports, stating the country's free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States will offer new opportunities.
YonhapNewsAgency reports that the call came as South Korea is striving to increase its agriculture exports by 30 per cent to over US$10 billion for the first time in its history this year. The country's food and agricultural exports surged 30.8 per cent on-year to a record high of $7.7 billion in 2011, according to the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Minister Suh Kyu-yong said conditions for the country's agricultural exports were worsening this year while the growth of Seoul's total exports, including industrial products, is expected to slow down from 19.6 per cent last year to about 6.7 per cent.
"Food and agriculture exports will also face great difficulties as the global economic downturn deepens this year, but the growing presence of hallyu (Korean wave) and the country's new FTAs could provide new opportunities that will foster rapid growth in the local food industry," Suh was quoted as saying in a meeting with officials from local governments and exporting companies.
South Korea is soon expected to implement its FTA with the United States following its ratification by the South Korean and US legislatures last year.
The minister also pledged additional support for exports to developing countries in Southeast Asia and China, which, he said, will likely continue high levels of economic growth this year.
"The $10 billion in foodÌ, agricultural exports may be an aggressive goal, but it is attainable if the government and private companies work together," he said.
To help increase exports, the government plans to provide a total of 576 billion won ($507 million) in loans and subsidies to private companies in 2012 alone.
TheFishSite News Desk