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  • Author: Sonali Chowdhry, Gabriel Felbermayr
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW)
  • Abstract: In 2011, the EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (EUKFTA) entered into force. With its focus on non-tariff barriers (NTBs), it is a leading example of a deep new generation agreement. Using detailed French customs data for the period 2000 to 2016, we investigate how exporters of different size have gained from the agreement. Applying a diff-in-diff strategy that makes use of the rich dimensionality of the data, we find that firms with larger pre-FTA sizes benefit more from the FTA than firms at the lower end of the size distribution, both at the extensive (product) and the intensive margins of trade. The latter finding is in surprising contrast to leading theories of firm-level behavior. Moreover, we find that our main result is driven by NTB reductions rather than tariff cuts. In shedding light on the distributional effects of trade agreements within exporters, our findings highlight the need for effective SME-chapters in FTAs.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, Treaties and Agreements, Tariffs, Trade
  • Political Geography: Europe, South Korea, European Union
  • Author: Sungchul Park, Hansoo Ko
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center
  • Abstract: Effective as of July 1, 2018, South Korea set a new cap on employees’ weekly working hours, decreasing the maximum number from 68 to 52. In this study, we comprehensively analyze the effectiveness of the law’s implementation by observing changes in work time, health status, health care utilization, health behavior, monthly expenses, and satisfaction between pre- and post-implementation periods (2014–2017 vs. 2019). We find evidence of both intended and unintended consequences—and, in this last category, some are beneficial and some not. As intended, employees eligible for the 52-hour work week saw their average working hours decrease, while their monthly spending on leisure increased substantially. A beneficial unintended consequence was that work time also decreased in firms with less than 300 employees that had not yet implemented the 52-hour work schedule (they have done so since, in January 2020). Among adverse unintended consequences, the most notable were heterogeneous effects across employment types (full-time vs. precarious employment) and, in particular, negative impacts on precarious employees (that is, those facing relatively high levels of job insecurity). Despite almost no change in their work time, precarious employees saw substantial increases in outpatient visits and monthly expenses for health care, indicating suggestive evidence of adverse health consequences. Another adverse unintended consequence was that overall job satisfaction decreased among several groups of employees. This may reflect a heavy workload among employees still expected to work overtime, especially experienced employees or those working in large firms. While employment rates increased after the new schedule’s implementation, the majority were in precarious jobs. This has negative implications because of the adverse health impacts of being in precarious employment; also, the workload of experienced employees in this field might have intensified amid all the new hiring. Our findings suggest key policy recommendations for how to leverage the benefits of the 52-hour cap on weekly working hours while addressing its negative unintended consequences.
  • Topic: Health, Labor Issues, Employment, Labor Policies
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Chin Hee Hahn, Ju Hyun Pyun
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA)
  • Abstract: This study examines the effects of domestic output import tariff reduction on domestic plant export dynamics and clarifies the underlying mechanism, using rich plant–product data from the Republic of Korea for 1991–2002. We find that home import liberalisation increases domestic plants’ export market participation (extensive margins), particularly for industry where markup growth is more negative during tariff reductions. However, we do not find evidence that cutting import tariffs significantly affects incumbent home exporters’ export volume (intensive margins). This study unveils a new mechanism – ‘escape competition’ to foreign markets – by showing that reducing import tariffs leads domestic firms under heightened industry competition to look for an opportunity in foreign markets via export inauguration.
  • Topic: Markets, Tariffs, Imports
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Chin Hee Hahn, Yong-Seok Choi
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA)
  • Abstract: This paper aims to investigate whether empirical evidence supports the learning-to-export hypothesis, which has received little attention in the previous literature. By taking full advantage of plant–product level data from the Republic of Korea during 1990–1998, we find some evidence for the learning-to-export effect, especially for innovated product varieties with delayed exporters: their productivity, together with research and development and investment activity, was superior to their matched sample. On the other hand, this learning-to-export effect was not significantly pronounced for the industries protected by import tariffs. Thus, our empirical findings suggest that it would be desirable to implement some policy tools to promote the learning-to-export effect, while tariff protection cannot be justifiable for that purpose.
  • Topic: Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Tariffs, Manufacturing, Productivity
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Clara Gillespie
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Under President Moon Jae-in, South Korea has set an ambitious target to move from being “first in the world” in the race to 5G to “first in global quality.” Yet, while a range of industry and government stakeholders are investing heavily in making this vision a reality, a number of factors are likely to weigh on whether or not these efforts yield significant results. These include uncertainties about how to further accelerate development in ways that lead to better returns on investments, and about how to navigate complex geopolitical considerations, including ongoing debates about Huawei’s involvement in 5G network infrastructure. Each of these areas will, in turn, require domestic stakeholders to make complex assessments about potential tradeoffs and risks. Thus, this paper assesses South Korea’s emerging 5G era at the one-year mark, and highlights key successes, setbacks, and ongoing challenges. Building on these findings, the paper concludes by offering several potential scenarios for future development, and suggestions for ways forward.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, 5G
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Choong Yong Ahn
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: India and South Korea, Asia’s third- and fourth-largest economies, respectively, established a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in 2010 and upgraded their relationship to a special strategic partnership in 2015. South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s “New Southern” policy and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Act East” policy share important objectives and values through which Korea and India can maximize their potential to pursue high tech-oriented, win-win growth. Both countries face the great challenge of diversifying their economic partners in their respective geo-economic domains amid newly emerging international geo-economic dynamics as well as rapidly changing Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies. Given the two countries’ excessive dependence on the Chinese market and potential risks and uncertainties involved in the U.S.-China trade war and related security conflicts, South Korea and India need to deepen bilateral linkages in trade, investment, and cultural contacts. South Korea-India cooperation is crucial in promoting plurilateralism, prosperity, and harmony in East Asia. This paper suggests a specific action agenda to fulfill mutual commitments as entailed in the “Special Strategic Partnership” between these two like-minded countries of South Korea and India.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Science and Technology, Bilateral Relations, Industry
  • Political Geography: United States, China, South Asia, India, Asia, South Korea, Korea
  • Author: Jagannath P. Panda
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Both India’s and South Korea’s strategic choices are deeply influenced by the rapidly evolving Indo-Pacific construct, particularly amid a mounting U.S.-China rivalry. With India’s “Look/Act East” policy and South Korea’s “New Southern Policy” offering a perfect stage for deepened mutual cooperation, both nations need to further their relations to build Asia’s future while advancing their respective national interests. With both countries following stringent foreign policies as a result of the actions of their immediate neighbors, they present a geopolitically strategic complementarity for their relationship to prosper and emerge as one of the most important relationships in the region. Seoul’s hesitation to overtly embrace the “Indo-Pacific” concept is not really a barrier; rather a geo-political overture to discard the balance of power politics and pursue an autonomous foreign policy. India’s preference for the “Indo-Pacific” is equally based on strategic autonomy, imbibing universal values and an inclusive regional order. Both countries emphasize a free and rules-based Indo-Pacific and have immense potential to establish security and connectivity partnerships as the keystone of their bilateral ties. With India and South Korea understanding the economic importance versus security ramifications of China, and with Japan’s reemergence as a key regional, if not global actor, both countries need to bring serious strategic intent to their relationship. Making use of the ASEAN platform and bilateral dialogues, South Korea and India have the potential to become one of the strongest Indo-Pacific partners of the 21st century
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Partnerships, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, India, Asia, South Korea, Korea, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Tae Soo Kang, Kyunghun Kim, Yuri Kim
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  • Abstract: Since the global financial crisis, low interest rates have continued throughout the world. However, financial imbalance has deepened as much of the expanded investment during low interest rates did not lead to increased productivity. This study focused on the increase of marginal firms as a result of the adverse effects of financial imbalances on firms. The marginal firms were identified based on the company's financial statement, and the share of marginal firms by country was compared and analyzed using Worldscope data. As a detailed analysis on the marginal firms, the impact of borrowing interest rate on the possibility of becoming a marginal company was analyzed in the case of Korea with KED data. According to the international comparison, East Asia including Korea, China and Japan has shown a lower share of marginal companies than Europe, South Asia and Latin America. Empirical results through Panel Logit with Sector Fixed Effect Model show that the borrowing rate has a negative correlation with the probability the company will become a marginal company in the case of Korea. However, the impact of an increase in borrowing rates on the likelihood of becoming a marginal company depends on the degree of financial vulnerability. Specifically, an increase in the borrowing rate has a greater impact on the possibility to become ICR<1 in the companies with higher financial vulnerability indexes.
  • Topic: Financial Crisis, Business , Business Management
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea
  • Author: Claudio Neidhofer, Guido Neidhofer
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Distributive, Labor and Social Studies (CEDLAS)
  • Abstract: The rapid spread of COVID-19 forced policy-makers to swiftly find solutions to reduce infection rates and keep mortality as low as possible. Empirical analyses on the effectiveness of control measures are hereby of primary importance. School closures were among the earliest measures enacted by the governments of most countries. However, while schools are now reopening in many countries, the impact of school closures on the course of the epidemic is still an open question. Adopting parametric and non-parametric synthetic control methods we estimate the effectiveness of pro-active school closures, and other early social distancing interventions, in three countries that reacted relatively early during the course of the pandemic. Our findings suggest that these interventions were effective at reducing the mortality rate of COVID-19, especially when enacted early.
  • Topic: Education, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia, South Korea, Argentina, South America, Italy
  • Author: Sanghoon Kim
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Pacific Forum
  • Abstract: North Korea’s foreign policy decision-making procedure is highly centralized to a single leader or, at most, a few political/military elites. While democratic governments are restrained both horizontally and vertically, authoritarian regimes are relatively free of constraints from the public. This paper examines the motivations behind North Korea’s nuclear weapons development in light of the rational deterrence model, then discusses the strategic implications of a rational, or irrational, North Korea. It concludes that North Korea’s decision to develop nuclear weapons was rationally motivated by the deteriorating security environment surrounding the state, but that this will not guarantee deterrence.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Authoritarianism, Deterrence, Denuclearization, Rationality
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea, Korean Peninsula