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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: 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: Bama Dev Sigdel
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  • Abstract: The main objective of this article is to assess the effect of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in terms of economic interrelations between Asian countries mainly China, Korea, India and Nepal. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is one of the most ambitious economic strategies in modern times that alters the economic, political and social relationship between Eastern and Western societies. It not only improves transport networks and facilitates trade, but also raises GDP of many economies. For China, BRI manifests its intention to become the next global power through bigger market access and economic opportunities. Although South Asia is less developed economically, it has high strategic utility for the BRI, which has drawn attention from China to deepen its relations in the region. On the other hand, South Korea has also emerged as a soft power in Asia. It has been playing a significant role in Asia by contributing the majority of its aid, i.e., 35 per cent in Asian economies and a major share of its FDI, i.e., 34.1 per cent. With the rapidly increasing growth of South Korea, it also has a growing relationship with ASEAN and other South Asian economies such as India to reduce its dependence on traditional trade allies. Moreover, for least developed economies like Nepal, the BRI can bring improved infrastructure, needed technology, managerial talents and greater connectivity to the world. South Korea can yield higher benefits through its relation with South Asia and especially Nepal through expansion of export and market access, access to cheap workable manpower to cope with its rising aging population, and less dependence on traditional allies through its investment in South Asian region.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Economy, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, Asia, South Korea, Nepal
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The Kaesong Industrial Complex, closed since 2016, was the most successful joint economic venture undertaken by North and South Korea. Reopening the manufacturing zone, with improvements to efficiency and worker protections, could help broker wider cooperation and sustain peace talks on the peninsula. What’s new? In 2016, South Korea shuttered the Kaesong Industrial Complex, breaking a modest but productive connection between the two Koreas. Crisis Group’s analysis sheds new light on the economic performance of firms operating at the Complex, demonstrating that the benefits for the South were greater than previously understood. Why does it matter? Beyond helping restart the stalled peace process, a deal to reopen the Complex in exchange for a proportionate step toward denuclearisation by North Korea could produce mutual economic benefits that help sustain South Korean support for talks and encourage Pyongyang’s commitment to peaceful relations. What should be done? As part of any deal to reopen the Complex, Seoul and Pyongyang should take steps to address problems that previously kept it from reaching its potential. The more efficiently, profitably and fairly it works, the better the Complex can help foster and maintain stable, peaceful relations between the Koreas.
  • Topic: Economics, Bilateral Relations, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Patrick M. Cronin
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: During an era in which strategic gravity is shifting to Asia, the United States cannot be careless in tending to its alliances with Japan and South Korea (the Republic of Korea, or ROK). The three countries face persistent threats from North Korea and from China’s semi-transparent bid for regional hegemony. Meanwhile, rocky relations between Tokyo and Seoul are jeopardizing vital U.S. interests in the Indo-Pacific. The latest disagreement between America’s premier allies raises new questions about alliance strategy, commitment, and burden-sharing. These fissures have become exacerbated as the U.S. pressures allies to increase their contributions to regional security and reciprocal trade. [...] This report seeks to explain why the U.S.-Japan and U.S.-ROK alliance are still a vital means of achieving overlapping strategic interests. At the same time, it also argues that keeping these alliances fit for purpose requires radical change rather than business as usual. Both a rapidly changing security environment and growing intra-alliance squabbling pose dangers that require U.S. leadership. This report concludes with specific ideas for advancing bilateral and trilateral cooperation in the coming months and years, without trying to achieve too much too quickly.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Economics, International Security, Alliance
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, South Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Liudmila Zakharova
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The New Northern Policy, proclaimed by the South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Vladivostok in September 2017, is designed to boost economic cooperation between Russia and South Korea. However, two years after a special presidential committee was created to plan and coordinate joint economic efforts, few results have been achieved. Bilateral trade has continued to increase with limited change to its structure: Russia mostly sends its mineral resources to South Korea and receives industrial products in return. New ROK investment in the Russian Far East has yet to occur, despite South Korea’s efforts to assist its businesses in finding profitable Russian projects. Seoul tried to convince Moscow that concluding a free trade agreement in the near future is necessary for intensified cooperation, but Russia prefers a more gradual approach to trade liberalization. InterKorean rapprochement in 2018 laid a foundation for further progress in the implementation of multilateral economic projects involving Russia if the international sanctions against North Korea were to be eased. Therefore, bilateral relations between Russia and the ROK can also be viewed from the perspective of promoting regional cooperation with North Korean participation.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Jiwon Nam, Kristin Vekasi
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: Tensions between South Korea and Japan are frustratingly persistent. Despite the shared interests of both countries, such as economic development in Southeast Asia, and keeping a robust alliance with the United States, South Korea and Japan maintain a bellicose relationship because of unresolved historical misunderstandings and territorial disputes. Inconsistent diplomatic policies and lack of strong leaders have made it difficult to prevent unnecessary hostility between South Korea and Japan. Fear of losing support has prevented politicians from pursuing friendly policies towards each other. Businesspeople, too, have been reluctant to pursue friendly policies towards each other, because of preconceived risks of being targeted for backlash. An examination of economic data shows these risks are minimal, and political tensions do not affect business or consumer behavior. Current efforts from both Korean and Japanese business organizations to improve cooperation include student exchange programs, recruitment processes, and public diplomacy. We urge the business community to advocate more to improve bilateral relations. Economic relations alone are insufficient to handle the task of improving a difficult relationship; there is also a need for leadership. In South Korea-Japan relations, the business community should step in and provide that role.
  • Topic: Economics, Bilateral Relations, Business , Private Sector
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, South Korea, North America, Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Théo Clément
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: While North Korea has developed Special Economic Zones for several decades now, these zones have attracted little attention from foreign investors, due to a mix of lack of economic reforms in the DPRK, the tense geopolitical situation, and China’s peculiar economic engagement towards North Korea. With the denuclearization process and North-South dialogue moving forward, this situation could change as South Korea’s announced policy of economic engagement with the North could provide Pyongyang the opportunity to play Beijing against Seoul to maximize its interests and attract foreign investment in Special Economic Zones from partners keen to maintain close ties with the DPRK.
  • Topic: Economics, Bilateral Relations, Investment, Trade, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea
  • Author: Troy Stangarone
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: Following a relatively successful period for U.S.-South Korea economic relations under the Bush and Obama administrations, Washington and Seoul have entered a new period of economic tension in the Trump administration. Unlike prior U.S. presidents, who placed a priority on negotiating fair rules in the United States’ economic relationships, President Trump has prioritized outcomes. As a result, one of his administration’s earliest moves was to renegotiate the KORUS Free Trade Agreement. While the results of the renegotiation were modest, they may help to expand the sale of American automobiles in the Republic of Korea in the long-run. The largest outcome of the negotiations may be to protect the Ford Motor Company from South Korean competition in the U.S. market as the company transitions to sales focused on light trucks. While the renegotiation has eased tensions for the moment, the prospect of economic engagement with North Korea, the Trump administration’s continued use of national security to erect trade barriers, and the emergence of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles could result in growing tensions in the relationship.
  • Topic: Economics, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Negotiation, Free Trade, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Choong Yong Ahn
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The Moon Jae-in administration in South Korea has taken a two-pronged approach to ensure urgently needed job creation and inclusive growth. Although measures towards each set of economic policies have been implemented since Moon took office in May 2017, what’s often referred to as “incomeled growth” has been prioritized over innovative growth. The income-led growth model is largely driven by domestic consumption through pro-labor distributional policies including a wage hike to raise the disposable income of low- and middleincome individuals, thereby triggering equity with growth. Focused more on the supply side, the innovative growth model encourages startups to create jobs and innovate. It is a great challenge for Korea to pursue growth and equity through both sets of policies. After a year in office, the Moon administration’s economic agenda, often referred to as J-nomics, has not fully produced the intended policy objectives in terms of job creation and growth. To mitigate a declining potential growth rate and pursue robust and inclusive growth, the twin policies need to be rebalanced, reprioritized, and interconnected in a mutually reinforcing manner to empower the private sector to play a bigger role. As a mid-sized open economy, Korea requires global market competitiveness on the supply side to create decent jobs by buoying entrepreneurship and innovation. Structural reforms in the labor market combined with deregulations necessary for the advent of disruptive 4th-industrial-revolution technologies must be expedited. Furthermore, a new business ecosystem in which win-win collaborations between globally-oriented conglomerates and small businesses must be encouraged to replace a zero-sum business culture.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology, Global Markets, Economic Growth
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, Korea