‘Ger­many’s hid­den cham­pi­ons can help Korea’

The Korea Times - - NATIONAL - By Jung Min-ho [email protected]­re­atimes.co.kr

Strength­en­ing part­ner­ships with Ger­many’s “hid­den cham­pi­ons” — small but highly suc­cess­ful com­pa­nies in their fields — could greatly help Korea over­come Ja­pan’s ex­port curbs, the leader of the Ko­rean-Ger­man Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try (KGCCI) said Tues­day.

“Many Ger­man com­pa­nies ei­ther have the ma­te­ri­als Korea ur­gently needs or are ca­pa­ble of de­vel­op­ing them in a short pe­riod time,” Kim Hyo-joon, chair­man of the KGCCI and BMW Korea, said dur­ing a speech at a sem­i­nar on busi­ness part­ner­ships be­tween the two coun­tries’ busi­nesses.

“Ko­rean and Ger­man com­pa­nies are mu­tu­ally com­ple­men­tary and, by work­ing to­gether, can cre­ate great syn­ergy.”

His com­ments come three months af­ter the Ja­pa­nese govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to re­strict the ex­port of some crit­i­cal tech­nol­ogy ma­te­ri­als to Ko­rean firms — an ap­par­ent act of re­tal­i­a­tion to last year’s Ko­rean Supreme Court rul­ings against Ja­pa­nese com­pa­nies on wartime forced la­bor.

Over the past few decades, Korea and Ger­many have be­come key busi­ness part­ners and built strong trust, Kim noted.

“To­day, there are 500 Ger­man com­pa­nies in Korea. They have made huge in­vest­ments here and em­ploy more than 100,000 Kore­ans. BMW alone has im­ported car parts worth a to­tal of 34 tril­lion won ($28.4 bil­lion) from 500 Ko­rean com­pa­nies,” Kim said. “Dur­ing the 1997 Asian fi­nan­cial cri­sis, Ger­many was the only big coun­try that in­creased — in­stead of de­creas­ing — its in­vest­ment here, which I be­lieve helped Korea rapidly over­come the cri­sis.”

The 2019 Bloomberg In­no­va­tion In­dex shows that Korea and Ger­many are the world’s most in­no­va­tive coun­tries, fol­lowed by Fin­land, Switzer­land and Is­rael. The study an­a­lyzes dozens of cri­te­ria us­ing seven met­rics, in­clud­ing con­cen­tra­tion of high-tech pub­lic com­pa­nies, re­search and devel­op­ment spend­ing, and man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­ity.

At the event, the KGCCI signed a mem­o­ran­dum of understand­ing with the Min­istry of Trade, In­dus­try and En­ergy, which promised longterm sup­port.

In­dus­try Min­is­ter Sung Yunmo said parts and ma­te­ri­als are the back­bone of the man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try, and Ger­many’s part­ner­ship was essen­tial for Korea to be­come a leader in the Fourth In­dus­trial Revo­lu­tion.

He said his min­istry is plan­ning to cre­ate an or­ga­ni­za­tion next year to sys­tem­at­i­cally sup­port Ko­rean-Ger­man busi­ness col­lab­o­ra­tion such as co-de­vel­op­ing new tech­nolo­gies.

The col­lab­o­ra­tive work be­tween Ko­rean com­pany iBULe Pho­ton­ics and Fraun­hofer So­ci­ety, a Ger­man re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion, in de­vel­op­ing an ul­tra­sonic sen­sor for non-de­struc­tive test­ing — the process of in­spect­ing com­po­nents or as­sem­bled prod­ucts for de­fects — was mentioned as a good ex­am­ple.

Around 150 rep­re­sen­ta­tives from govern­ment agen­cies and com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Siemens and Merck Group, at­tended the event.

Cour­tesy of Korea In­ter­na­tional Trade As­so­ci­a­tion

Kim Hyo-joon, right, chair­man of the Ko­rean-Ger­man Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try, and BMW Korea, In­dus­try Min­is­ter Sung Yun-mo, cen­ter, and Korea In­ter­na­tional Trade As­so­ci­a­tion Chair­man Kim Young-ju pose at COEX in south­ern Seoul, Tues­day, af­ter sign­ing a mem­o­ran­dum of understand­ing to strengthen part­ner­ships be­tween Ko­rean and Ger­man com­pa­nies.

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