President Kwon Pyung-oh of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) delivered his inaugural speech in which he called for spearheading SMEs’ entry into overseas markets.
“Reviving the undaunted challenging spirit of KOTRA’s trade office chief who led in the market exploration armed with a flak jacket amid an unstable situation following the breakout of the Iraqi War in 2003, KOTRA will devote itself in fulfilling the missions of the times helping SMEs and mid-size superstars tap overseas markets and global job creation,” President Kwon said.
He made the remarks after taking office as president at the KOTRA headquarters on April. 2. President Kwon expounded management tenets and the direction of innovation to conform to what KOTRA is worthy o in accordance with the demands of the times. His inauguration ceremony also coincided with an event to announce a declaration of innovation in which KOTRA executives and staff made a public pledge.
Considering the reality that the global business environment undergoes rapid changes and the demand for customers’ services is getting higher, he said, neglecting innovation is like “Icarus Paradox.” It derives from the tale of Icarus, a figure in Greek mythology, who made wings out of feathers and bee wax to fly, but he fell to his death after he came closer to the sun despite warnings.
President Kwon called for a sense of mission and challenging spirit to become worthy of KOTRA. To this end, he said KOTRA will implement four core policy tasks ― providing support to SMEs and mid-size superstars seeking to tap overseas markets, creating global jobs, diversifying export items and markets, and exploring new overseas entry opportunities.
He suggested steps to reinvent work in organization, business, culture and personnel management.
Noting that expanding exports through a few conglomerates and mainstay items has probably peaked, and exports’ trickledown economics have declined dramatically, he said expanding exports via innovative SMEs and mid-size superstars is the best option of “catching two birds with a stone” boosting exports and creating jobs given the current situation that the economic paradigm shift into an income-led growth and human-oriented economy is badly needed.
Kwon said KOTRA will concentrate its support on such upgraded globalization as overseas investments, technology cooperation and capital cooperation by reorganizing the Customer Service Division into the SME and Mide-size Superstar Support Division and offering export growth ladders.
Recognizing job creation as its main function of trade and investment, he said KOTRA will attach top priority to creating jobs by providing support to SME’s overseas market entry, launching new businesses and attracting foreign direct investments. To this end, the number of overseas trade offices supporting overseas job creation will rise from current 24 to 50, while trade offices supporting overseas startups will be newly designated.
President Kwon also unveiled plans to operate task forces responsible for policy support in accordance with the government’s “New North Trade” and “New South Trade” initiatives, as well as exploring new overseas entry opportunities like the diversifying of export items and markets and connecting economic cooperation with market entry via overseas investments.
Manpower at KOTRA headquarters will be reduced by 10 percent, and they will be dispatched abroad and to provincial areas to transform it to a customer- and field-oriented structure. New KOTRA employees will be posted to the Provincial Support Team.
KOTRA will transfer promotion projects to the private sector to focus on implementing merit- and substance-oriented projects while concentrating on the development of programs conducive to overseas market entry and job creation.
The KOTRA president will take the initiative in touring fields more than once per week to lend an ear to the voices of customers and build an ecosystem of supporting exports with SME policy authorities and support agencies.
President Kwon also stressed personnel management focusing on capabilities and merit by recruiting 20 percent of KOTRA’s overseas trade office head jobs from abroad and promoting local staff members to overseas trade office heads.