On Sept. 22 South Korea unveiled a plan to invest 99.4 trillion won (US$87.2 billion) in 22 new growth sectors over five years to boost the economy and create jobs. The government will inject 7.9 trillion won with the rest coming from the private sector, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said. The plan will start from next year, with the government investing 1.3 trillion won and 10.5 trillion coming from private firms.
"If the plan is successful, a total of 880,000 new jobs could be created by 2013," said Lee Dong-Geun, head of the ministry's growth engine development office.
He said exports could reach $306.9 billion in 2013 from $120.8 billion expected for this year. "Progress in such key industries may finally help South Korea make it into the top 10 of global economies after hovering at twelfth-thirteenth place for the last 15 years," Lee said.
The 22 projects have been divided into three phases. Development of media convergence, cultural contents, product design, software, next-generation semiconductors, information technology and marine industries is to be completed within five years.
Advanced mobile communications, fuel cells, light-emitting diodes, solar cells, radio frequency identification tags/ubiquitous sensor networks, nuclear reactors, displays and healthcare technology will be extensively developed within a decade.
Efforts to develop greenhouse gas retrieval and use, new medicine, industrial materials, robotics, marine biofuel, non-polluting coal and eco-friendly cars could take more than a decade.
The government expects a 2.4 trillion won investment over the next five years in the solar energy industry to help the country seize a 20% market share by 2018.
South Korea was left in abject poverty after the 1950-53 war. Since then, the size of the economy has grown 750 times to become the world's 13th largest. But it is seeking new growth engines amid a rapidly aging population and increasing competition in manufacturing from lower-cost China.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008