"The government will strengthen overseas marketing activities centering on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) this year to promote exports," a senior ministry official said.
"In 2010, Korea enjoyed the biggest trade surplus in history, becoming the world's seventh largest exporting country. Based on such achievements, the government aims to attain the trade volume of US$1 trillion this year," said Han Jin-hyun , director general of the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.
In 1992, the United States posted US$1 trillion in trade volume for the first time, followed by Germany in 1998, China and Japan in 2004, France in 2006, and Italy, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands in 2007. Korea recorded US$100 million in trade in 1951, US$10 billion in 1974, US$100 billion in 1988 and US$500 billion in 2005.
"In order to attain the ambitious target, the government and enterprises should join hands to enhance competitiveness in both quality and price, while producing more export goods armed with brand power," he said.
"Related to this, the ministry plans to hold the world's top-class exhibition two times in the newly emerging markets, including Africa and China, in 2011. Along with this, it will implement a tailor-made support system to help SMEs advance into overseas markets easily," said Han.
"Through these efforts, new Korean products such as next-generation wireless communication, intelligent robots and other high-tech products will lead the world market this year, in addition to existing main export items, including mobile phones, ships and home electronics," said the senior ministry official.
Project to foster world's top-class products
"The ministry has been propelling a project to actively foster competitive Korean products to lead the global market since 2001 in an attempt to expand Korea's future export engines," Han said.
It has designated Korean-made goods, which rank fifth or higher and account for over five percent of the global market share, as the "world's top-class products".
Meanwhile, it has named Korean goods, which have high competitiveness in terms of quality, technology, price and high possibility of being entered into the ranks of the world's top five within five years, as the "next-generation world's top-class products".
"Since 2001, when it singled out 120 items as the world's top-class products, a total of 553 items produced by 619 companies were designated as those products," he explained.
"The selected items will be given such favors as supports for participation in the world's top-class Korean product exhibition and overseas exhibition through KOTRA and tailor-made overseas marketing assistance. The ministry is also extending indirect supports in the fields of technology development, financing and manpower assistance to the selected products in linkage with other support systems," said Han.
Contribution of the world's top-class products to the export industry
Noting that the ministry conducted a survey of 493 world's top-class products last year, Han said, "The items posted an annual average of 11.6 percent rise in exports during the 2005-2009 period, far surpassing the nation's total annual export growth rate of 7.1 percent. Their portion of the nation's total exports also accounted for 48.1 percent in 2009.
"By item, 88 world's top-class products recorded over US$100 million in annual exports each. In particular, the four items -memory chips, TFT-LCD, passenger cars and bulk & container carriers - saw their export figure exceed US$10 billion," said the senior ministry official.
Success cases of the world's top-class products in the global market
The world's top-class products are created through the ministry's strict selection and qualification screening procedures. For example, the ministry conducts the qualification screening procedure of the world's top-class products one year after the selection.
"Meanwhile, the next-generation world's top-class products should pass through the qualification screening procedure three years after the selection," he said.
Asked about the success stories of the world's top-class products in the global market, Han mentioned on the products of the four companies- Hyundai Heavy Industries, Huvis, Commax, and CrucialTec.
"Hyundai Heavy Industries has 31 world's top-class products at present, ranking first in the number of top-class products among Korean companies. It exports 95 percent of its products to foreign countries and 80 percent of its sales come from the world's top-class products," he explained.
Huvis is a joint textile venture company established in 2000 between SK Chemical and Samyang Corp. The company develops polyester fiber, which was selected as the world's top-class product by the government in 2001. Polyester fiber is used chiefly for automobile interior.
Since 2001, Huvis has maintained the world's No. 1 position in the manufacturing of textiles for industrial use. It accounts for roughly 40 percent of the world's market share and exports its goods to about 100 countries.
Commax's video door phone was selected as the world's top-class product in 2003. It occupied 34 percent of the global market share and enjoyed over 30 percent rise in exports in 2010 over 2003.
Optical Trackpad of CrucialTec was selected as the world's top-class product in 2009. Optical Trackpad is a compact input device playing a role of mobile phone mouse. It recorded KRW66.8 billion in sales in the third quarter of 2010, a sharp rise of 318 percent from the same span of the previous year.
Hyundai Heavy Industries
"Hyundai Heavy Industries added two products to the 2010 world's top-class products, renewing its record high in the number of top-class products among Korean companies," a company spokesman said.
The two products are 145kV gas insulated switchgear (GIS) and power distribution board for ship reefer containers. Hyundai Heavy Industries exports 145kV GIS to the Middle East and accounts for 13.7 percent of the global market share, ranking it third in the world.
It also takes 68 percent of the global market share in exports of power distribution boards for ship reefer containers, securing the first position in the world.
"Of its world's top-class products, 15 products, including ships, diesel engines and mobile power generation systems, ranked first in terms of global market share, showing its world's best technology competitiveness," he said.
At present, only two companies - LG Chemicals (15) and Samsung Electronics (13) -have more than 10 world's top-class products, besides Hyundai Heavy Industries.
Although Hyundai Heavy Industries has so far produced ship-related products as the world's top-class products, it is now expanding the scope of its products to electric & electronics products, construction equipment and robots for industrial use, pursuing a change toward a global general heavy industry company.
"Thanks to strenuous technology development efforts, we have obtained the biggest number of world's top-class products. We will continue expanding the figure to 39 by 2012 through persistent R&D and bolstering of business power," the spokesman said.
"Huvis is Korea's No. 1 polyester company and ranks third in the world in volume," a company spokesman said. With polyester fiber, it posted KRW1.3 trillion in annual sales, leading the domestic textile industry.
"Huvis has enjoyed a surplus for the fourth consecutive year and expects its sales and operational profit to reach KRW1.4 trillion and KRW50 billion, respectively, this year," he said.
Asked about the secret of the company's success, Huvis CEO Moon Sung-hwan said, "Even in the difficult textile environment both at home and abroad, we have persistently made efforts for differentiation of products, development of new materials and environment-friendly textiles. Thanks to such strategy centering on products and markets, we could earn handsome profits every year."
Low melting fiber and high sense with stretch developed by Huvis in 2001 and 2004, respectively, were designated as the next-generation world's top-class products by the government.
In 2010, its new product Zentra was also selected as the next-generation world's top-class product. In particular, "Huvis low melting fiber, which was selected as the world's best product for the past 10 years, is the company's representative product," he said.
"Video door phone developed by Commax was selected as the world's top-class product in 2003 and the product has kept its qualification for the eighth consecutive year," a company spokesman said.
Commax took 34 percent of the global market share and enjoyed over 30 percent rise in exports in 2010 over 2003.
Commax, which started its business under the name of Joongang Electronics Industry Co. in 1968, has engaged in the businesses related to visitor identification and home control systems ranging from interphones, door phones and video phones to home automation and home network.
It started its exports in the 1970s and now exports its products to approximately 120 countries. It has agents in 90 countries.
At present, Commax is one of the world's top three home network companies, along with Aiphone of Japan.
"Residential environment in the world is much more various than we think. According to the development speed of each country, some countries want analog products, and others demand digital products equipped with IT technology. Commax possesses a variety of products to satisfy such different residential environments," said the spokesman.
Noting that Commax video phone is its representative export product, he said, "Since the designation of the video phone as the world's top-class product, Commax's video phone exports have increased over 30 percent. Commax plans to become a world leader in the home network field, not to mention the video phone sector."
Optical Trackpad (OTP) developed by CrucialTec was selected as the world's top-class product in 2009.
"CrucialTec is an input solution-specialized company, which succeeded in commercialization of OTP," a company spokesman said.
"OTP works as a mouse on mobile devices, and is gaining attention as smartphone users are growing exponentially. It is currently only used on mobile devices, but is predicted to become adapted by laptops, IPTVs and remote controls," said the spokesman.
"The product is used by almost all smartphone manufacturing companies such as Samsung, LG, Motorola, and Rim. It also makes up 95 percent market share in the worldwide OTP market," he said.
CrucialTec recorded KRW66.8 billion in sales in the third quarter of 2010, a sharp rise of 318 percent from the same span of the previous year. In 2009, it posted KRW62.2 billion in sales and KRW7.3 billion in operational profit.
"After being selected as the world's top-class product in 2009, the brand popularity and confidence of CrucialTec were improved in the domestic and global markets significantly. Along with this, CrucialTec was selected as one of the companies subject to the KOTRA World Champ Project and participated in the Mobile World Congress 2010, the world's biggest communication exhibition," he explained.