Japan’s announcement in March that it would seek to join the trans-Pacific Partnership looked like great news for the US. The TPP, intended to lower trade barriers among some of Washington’s key trading partners in the Pacific region, is an important part of the Obama administration’s “rebalancing” to Asia – and having the continent’s second-biggest economy on board would give it greater clout.
But as US undersecretary of commerce Francisco Sánchez told beyondbrics on Tuesday, Washington still has concerns about Japanese trade policy – particularly in cars. Continue reading »
Hyundai Motor Group’s rise to prominence in the global autos market may have sparked alarm from Detroit to Wolfsburg – but the pace of growth has slowed of late. Chung Mong-koo, the South Korean group’s chairman, has adopted a cautious approach to capacity expansion in order to avoid the dangers of growing too fast.
So the market sat up and took notice on Friday after he hinted at a possible change of heart. Continue reading »
Just one week before Park Geun-hye (pictured) is sworn in as South Korea’s new president, she is still slogging through a fierce struggle over the make-up of her cabinet. Last month her first choice for prime minister had to withdraw after the parliamentary confirmation process brought fierce criticism over decades-old property deals. And some of Park’s other selections are also proving controversial. Continue reading »
South Korea’s big retail chains have been feeling gloomy in recent months, as low consumer confidence has squeezed their margins. And growing political pressure is giving them further cause for concern.
On Tuesday, the National Commission for Corporate Partnership, a panel that advises the government on business policy, recommended that companies with more than Won20bn in sales should not enter retail sectors including used cars, magazines, flowers, bicycles, or most sorts of restaurants. Continue reading »
Lee Myung-bak’s approval ratings remain painfully low as he prepares to step down as South Korean president next month. But he might hope for a belated popularity boost in 2018 when his country hosts the Winter Olympics – one of a series of major international events that South Korea won during his term.
The past week has given an early taste of the festival that awaits in five years’ time, as the South Korean ski resort of Pyeongchang hosted the Special Olympics World Games. Continue reading »
Relations between Samsung and Apple reached a low point last year as they squared off in intellectual property disputes on four continents.
But this week gave the rivals something to bond over: each company reported strong growth in smartphone sales, only to watch investors rush for the exit. Continue reading »
Over the past two years, LG Electronics has watched its South Korean rival Samsung Electronics storm ahead in the mobile phone sector as its own market share dwindled.
This week has brought a couple of upbeat developments that suggest the company is making some headway at the top end of the smartphone sector. But has it really turned the corner? Continue reading »
The snowflakes drifting earthwards made for a pretty sight in Seoul this week. But they had a darker aspect for many residents concerned about their toxic properties, as worries continue about South Korea’s vulnerability to air pollution in nearby China.
Much of eastern China has experienced its worst smog for years over the past week, caused largely by the past decade’s huge increase in coal usage by factories and power plants, as well as emissions from the rapidly growing number of motor vehicles. Since Saturday, South Korea has also suffered an acute rise in air pollution – albeit not to the same levels of Beijing – and local media, as well as government officials, are pinning the blame on China. Continue reading »
South Korea’s central bank on Friday held the base interest rate at 2.75 per cent for the third successive month, after signs that the national economy is picking up after a subdued performance last year. But it voiced unease about the European fiscal crisis, as it trimmed its growth forecast for 2013. Continue reading »
South Koreans have grown familiar with the sight of prominent businessmen being convicted of fraud, only to steer clear of jail. So the imprisonment last August of Kim Seung-youn, chairman of the major conglomerate Hanwha (pictured left being arrested for a separate incident), raised hopes of a shift in the treatment of high-profile wrongdoers.
Now, suspicious types might fear a return to lenient practices, after Kim was released this week due to health problems. Continue reading »
Ahead of next Wednesday’s presidential election in South Korea, both leading contenders are full of talk about rebalancing the economy away from the export-focused manufacturers who have long served as its main growth engine.
But a steady stream of data is showing that the reliance on exports is, if anything, becoming more pronounced. Continue reading »
The December 2008 currency swap agreement between South Korea and China came amid extraordinary turmoil in global markets. Together with similar arrangements with Japan and the US, it helped to ease fears about South Korea’s foreign currency liquidity.
Even after Seoul and Beijing doubled the facility last year to nearly $60bn (Rmb360bn, Won64tn), it’s still never been used. But now Beijing and Seoul have found a use for the money. Continue reading »
Gallons of ink have been spilled on the outlook for Samsung Electronics’ position in the US, after last month’s California court defeat to Apple.
But the technology giant is paying growing attention to the emerging consumer markets of the Middle East and Africa – as shown by its announcement this week of a new factory in Egypt, its first in the region. Continue reading »