|Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki, second from right, speaks during a meeting at the Seoul Government Complex at Gwanghwamun, Monday. Yonhap|
W6.3 tril. to be invested in 'Big 3' growth drivers
By Lee Kyung-min
The government will invest over 6.3 trillion won ($5.4 billion) next year to foster the advancement of future vehicles, bio healthcare and semiconductors ― the three key future growth drivers hoped to underpin the economy, the country's top policymaker said Monday.
The 43 percent year-on-year increase in investment aims to sharpen the country's competitive edge on the global stage where the three sectors are increasingly emerging as vital, long-term national security interests.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said that the government will spare no efforts in assisting the three industries, anchoring confidence from businesses to bolster predictability and sustainability in making key investment decisions.
"The government will provide support to strengthen fiscal, tax, financial and institutional support for the crucial industries to achieve rapid growth and solidify their standing on the global stage," Hong said at the Seoul Government Complex at Gwanghwamun.
Monday's policy initiatives coincide with the ongoing feud between the U.S. and China over the production of batteries and EVs, the latest development in the drawn-out hegemony war concerning trade, intellectual property and subsequent brain drain issues in recent years.
The fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a limited impact on the country relative to its global peers, due in most part to effective containment measures, coupled with robust exports carried by Samsung Electronics and SK hynix, the top two global chipmakers both based in Korea.
IC Insights, a semiconductor market research firm said Aug. 22 (local time) that Samsung Electronics recorded semiconductor sales of $20.29 billion in the second quarter of this year, overtaking its U.S. competitor Intel for the first time since the third quarter of 2018.
This was followed by Samsung's Aug. 24 announcement that it will invest 240 trillion won over the next three years, with three quarters, or 180 trillion won, to be invested in the country for the advancement of chipmaking, bio and battery technologies.
Core techs growth engine
Technologies needed to produce semiconductors, batteries and vaccines will be designated as national core strategic technologies, granting a legal basis for them to receive a greater tax credit for research and development spending and facility investments.
Korea's semiconductor industry regained its position as the global top player despite the pandemic, a notable feat backed further by Korea's leading battery producers reporting surpluses and its bio industry making the list of the country's top 10 exporters, he added.
"The growth of the three industries will not only contribute to overcoming the pandemic-triggered health and economic crisis, but also lay the foundation for the country's sustainable growth in the years to come," Hong said.
Around 3,300 electric vehicles (EV) repair stations and at least 26 fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) inspection stations will be set up by 2025, steps the government considers pivotal to creating an ecosystem for inspection and maintenance services. About 46,000 workers will be trained for the services.
The government plans to strengthen the competitiveness of five high-tech sensors, key components of future industries including autonomous driving, advanced digital healthcare services and mobile devices.
About 200 billion won will be spent on R&D activities for the country to become a key sensor powerhouse by 2030, as part of a project to be faciliated by the development of short-term commercialization technologies, next-generation sensor devices and sensor-based technologies.
The Ministry of Economy and Finance said the global sensor market is expected to grow to $332.8 billion by 2025, up from $193.9 billion last year. The average growth rate in the period is estimated at 11 percent.