South Korean Industry Minister Nominee Pledges to Tackle External Export Risks

Industry Minister nominee Ahn Duk-geun in South Korea has pledged to address external risks impacting the country's export recovery. This commitment was voiced during a confirmation hearing, highlighting a strategic approach to maintaining the nation's export growth amid global challenges.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the focus will be on navigating issues such as supply chain disruptions and rising protectionism. He made these remarks following the report that South Korea's exports increased by 5.1 percent to US$57.6 billion in December, marking the third consecutive month of growth. However, the overall outbound shipments for 2023 experienced a 7.4 percent decline, primarily due to weakened chip exports.

During the confirmation hearing, Ahn noted the complexities in the global industrial and export environment, exacerbated by the slowdown in major economies, increasing protectionism, and ongoing geopolitical tensions, including the U.S.-China relations and the Israel-Hamas conflict. He expressed a proactive stance in addressing trade policies from major economies like the United States, China, and the European Union, and in exploring new export markets through South Korea's extensive trade network.

Ahn emphasized the encouraging signs of recovery in the South Korean economy, evidenced by maintaining a trade surplus for six consecutive months. To sustain this recovery, he outlined plans for the industry ministry to revise regulations and offer incentives to businesses.

Highlighting South Korea's competitive edge in manufacturing and advanced industries such as semiconductors and batteries, Ahn aspires to position the country as a global investment hub. He also mentioned leveraging the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), which includes 14 member nations, to ensure a stable supply of raw materials and minerals.

The nominee plans to implement a system for quick response to supply chain risks, accelerate efforts for domestic production, and diversify import sources for critical materials, parts, and equipment. Additionally, he addressed the carbon neutrality policy, indicating collaboration with key partners to promote renewable, hydrogen, and nuclear energy.

The parliamentary committee on trade and industry, after the confirmation hearing, adopted a report endorsing Ahn as suitable for the ministerial role. Ahn, who previously served as the first trade minister under the Yoon administration, was nominated for the ministerial position last month.

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