Gov't approves measures to boost exports in H2

SEOUL, July 11 (Yonhap) -- The government on Thursday announced a set of special measures aimed at boosting the country's exports in the second half that include an expansion of government support to deal with foreign exchange risks.

Under the measures approved at a trade-investment promotion meeting, chaired by President Park Geun-hye, the government will raise the ceiling for its guarantee on exchange risk insurance by 500 billion won to 3 trillion won (US$2.64 billion), according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE).

"Conditions will not be so formidable in the second half as global uncertainties, such as exchange fluctuations, will grow due to the United States scaling down its quantitative easing amid a growing possibility of an economic slowdown in China, the world's largest export market for the country," the ministry said in a press release.

South Korea's exports only inched up 0.6 percent on-year to $276.7 billion in the first six months of the year while its imports shrank 2.6 percent to $257.1 billion.

The ministry also announced measures to support firms, especially small- and medium-sized companies, that export products to Iran.

A fresh set of U.S. sanctions against Iran, which went into effect on July 1, prohibited shipments of any parts, materials or technology that may assist the development of the energy, shipbuilding or shipping industries.

South Korea's $6-billion exports to Iran in 2012 included many items that are not subject to the U.S. sanctions, but the problem is that all South Korean shipping companies have halted direct services to and from Iran under U.S. pressure, leaving nearly 3,000 exporters here, mostly small- and medium-sized firms, with no way of shipping their goods to the Middle East country.

The government said it will work to normalize shipping services to and from Iran, starting with Hyundai Merchant Marine Co., which is set to resume operations to and from Iran on Thursday, followed by Hanjin Shipping Co. on July 25.

The measures to boost exports will also include support for overseas marketing for various industries.

In the second half, the state-run Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency and the Korea International Trade Association will organize or assist 64 overseas exhibitions for the machinery industry, up 24 percent from a year earlier, and 16 such promotional events for the shipbuilding and steel industries, the ministry said.

In addition, the government will gradually stop charging access fees on electronic trading over the next 12 months, which will reduce costs by 10.6 billion won for some 34,000 companies currently engaged in e-trading, it said.

"The MOTIE will work to make sure its other tasks, such as providing support for exporters and setting up a help system to verify place of origin for companies exporting under free trade agreements, will continue to provide practical help to our companies," the ministry said.

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