South Korea will work to boost its food exports

South Korea will work to boost its food exports by more than 30 percent to US$ 10 billion as part of its policy goals for next year, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said Friday.

The move comes as the country is expected to implement its free trade agreement with the United States in early 2012 which, the ministry earlier said, could lead to a reduction of 12.67 trillion won ($ 10.9 billion) in production by the country’s agricultural, farming and fisheries industries.

“The best way to help develop local industries is to boost their exports, which surely has to be based on increased production here,” said Park Hyun-chool, assistant minister for planning and coordination.

The plan, along with other policy objectives for the ministry, were presented to the president in a report Friday.

South Korea’s food and agriculture exports surged to a new annual high in the first 11 months of the year with its total shipments expected to reach $ 7.6 billion.

A 31-percent increase to $ 10 billion is not an easy task, Park noted.

“It will be a really difficult goal to achieve, but one that shows the government’s firm resolution to achieve,” he told a press briefing.

Efforts to boost exports will include an injection of up to 800 billion won in government subsidies and low-interest loans in 2012 alone to help modernize the country’s aging production facilities.

Modernization of production facilities is the most important element in boosting production, which supports increased exports,” the assistant minister said. A total of 10 trillion won will be injected over the next 10 years toward that end.

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