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  Korea Report - February 2023
  Author : Hwang & Co     Date : 23-03-07 16:43     Hit : 11915    
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Helping rebuild Turkey following the earthquakes that killed at least 35,000 people is the new priority for SKorea, Foreign Ministry said on 15th, moving away from the role of first responders to helping Ankara set long-term recovery goals. Seoul is to field a second rescue team on 16th. Its all about reconstruction now, rather than rescue, senior ministry official said. The official noted that second team replacing current 118 member mission staying in Antakya, will not only deliver relief packages worth KW1 bil ($780,000), but share expertise in facilitating return to life before the tragedy. Read more


NK is already prepared to conduct another nuclear test, but is biding its time to gain leverage in negotiations with China and other powers, according to Rep. Tae Yong-ho, former NKorean diplomat. Tae said on 2nd that whether NK decides to test its nuclear weapons for the seventh time was between Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping. The question of the next nuclear test is a useful card for Kim to play in leveraging economic assistance from China. Read more


SKorea's extended export slump is attributable to higher energy prices, falling chip shipments and lower demand from China, Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho said on 16th. In Jan, SKorea suffered an all-time monthly high trade deficit of $12.69 bil, far higher than previous record of $9.44 bil set in Aug last year. The economy, which relies heavily on imports for its energy demand, has suffered a trade deficit for 11 straight months. Read more


SKorea suffered a trade deficit of $5.3 bil in Feb, first time since 1997 that the country has logged trade deficit for 12 months in a row. Outbound shipments fell 7.5% on-year to $50.1 bil. The decline came as exports of semiconductors dived 42.5% on falling demand and a drop in chip prices. Exports to China sank 24.2% to $9.88 bil in Feb, extending losing streak to ninth month. Exports to the US rose 16.2% to $9 bil on solid demand for cars, batteries and other related items, and those bound for the EU climbed 13.2% to $6.2 bil. Imports rose 3.6% on-year to $55.4 bil, as energy imports went up 19.7% on-year.


SKoreas top four financial groups, Shinhan, KB, Hana and Woori, saw their combined net profit last year hitting a record high of KW15.85 tril ($12.53 bil), largely buoyed by robust interest. This figure broke last years record of KW14.54 tril, as there was 8.99% increase in net profit on-year. Shinhan reclaimed the top position by posting a net profit of KW4.64 tril. KB marked KW4.41 tril net profit, while Hana achieved KW3.62 tril. Woori logged the lowest net profit at KW3.16 tril, but this figure is still 22.47% higher than its 2021 figure. Read more


SKorean tech giants are shifting their production operations away from China to India to lessen the damage from lingering uncertainties surrounding the US-China rivalry and to tap further into world's fifth-largest economy. Samsung Electronics (SEC) has recently decided to produce latest Galaxy S23 flagship smartphones in India for local sales. SEC has been operating worlds largest mobile manufacturing plant in Noida, which is backed by Indian governments tax benefits. Read more


Artificial intelligence has become a part of our lives, sparking innovation around every corner. California-based startup OpenAI released ChatGPT to the public in Nov last year and gained over 1 mil users within a week. The AI-powered chatbot is already being hailed as a game changer for various industries with its ability to learn and adapt quickly to new information as it was designed to generate responses in a conversational style. ChatGPT is the latest evolution of the GPT, Generative Pre-Trained Transformer, a family of text-generating AIs. Read more


SKorea's foreign reserves came to $425.29 bil as of end Feb, down $4.68 bil on-month, shrinking for the first time in four months as stronger dollar reduced conversion value of holdings in other currencies. Foreign securities came to $374.49 bil, which accounted for 88.1% of total foreign reserves. The value of deposits stood at $26.75 bil. SKorea was ranked world's ninth-largest holder of foreign reserves at the end of Jan.


SKoreas consumer prices rose 4.8% on-year in Feb, falling below 5% for first time in 10 months. The prices of agricultural, fisheries and livestock products moved up 1.1% on-year. Industrial product prices increased 5.1% on-year, due mainly to rises in diesel and bread costs, which advanced 17.7% and 4.8%. Those of gasoline and computers moved down 7.6% and 6%. Core inflation rose 4% on-year in Feb. Prices of utility services went up 28.4% on-year, a new high amid soaring energy prices.


Hanwha Group received approval of planned takeover of DSME from Turkish authorities. Hanwha Group must pass screenings from authorities of eight countries including SKorea, the EU, Japan, China, Singapore, Turkey, Vietnam, and the UK. Most of the new vessel orders in the shipbuilding industry come from overseas shipowners, so the merger can only be completed after obtaining permission from competition authorities. Also, British authorities have given an effective approval. Read more


SKorean shipbuilding industry, known for its success in building LNG carriers over the past 20 years, is now shifting its focus to the future by investing in next-generation eco-friendly technologies. KSOE recently signed a Joint Development Project (JDP) agreement with Lloyd's Register to develop new cargo handling system (CHS) for 12K cbm liquefied carbon dioxide (LCO2) carriers. KSOE will create the CHS and receive an Approval in Principle (AiP) from LR. Read more



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