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South Korea

 
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South Korea

Economic Plans

Economic programs were based on a series of five-year plans that began in 1962. The First Five-Year Economic Development Plan (1962-66) consisted of initial steps toward the building of a self-sufficient industrial structure that was neither consumption oriented nor overdependent on oil. Such areas as electrification, fertilizers, oil refining, synthetic fibers, and cement were emphasized. The Second Five-Year Economic Development Plan (1967- 71) stressed modernizing the industrial structure and rapidly building import-substitution industries, including steel, machinery, and chemical industries. The Third Five-Year Economic Development Plan (1972-76) achieved rapid progress in building an export-oriented structure by promoting heavy and chemical industries. Industries receiving particular attention included iron and steel, transport machinery, household electronics, shipbuilding, and petrochemicals. The developers of heavy and chemical industries sought to supply new industries with raw materials and capital goods and to reduce or even eliminate dependence on foreign capital. New (and critical) industries were to be constructed in the southern part of the peninsula, far from the border with North Korea, thus encouraging economic development and industrialization outside the Seoul area and providing new employment opportunities for residents of the less developed areas.

The Fourth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (1977-81) fostered the development of industries designed to compete effectively in the world's industrial export markets. These major strategic industries consisted of technology-intensive and skilled labor-intensive industries such as machinery, electronics, and shipbuilding. The plan stressed large heavy and chemical industries, such as iron and steel, petrochemicals, and nonferrous metal. As a result, heavy and chemical industries grew by an impressive 51.8 percent in 1981; their exports increased to 45.3 percent of total output. These developments can be ascribed to a favorable turn in the export performance of iron, steel, and shipbuilding, which occurred because high-quality, low-cost products could be produced in South Korea. By contrast, the heavy and chemical industries of advanced countries slumped during the late 1970s. In the machinery industries, investments were doubled in electric power generation, integrated machinery, diesel engines, and heavy construction equipment; the increase clearly showed that the industries benefited from the government's generous financial assistance program.

The late 1970s, however, witnessed worldwide recession, rising fuel costs, and growing inflation. South Korea's industrial structure became somewhat imbalanced, and the economy suffered from acute inflation because of an overemphasis on investment in heavy industry at a time when many potential customers were not in a position to buy heavy industrial goods.

The Fifth Five-Year Economic and Social Development Plan (1982-86) sought to shift the emphasis away from heavy and chemical industries, to technology-intensive industries, such as precision machinery, electronics (televisions, videocassette recorders, and semiconductor-related products), and information. More attention was to be devoted to building high-technology products in greater demand on the world market.

The Sixth Five-Year Economic and Social Development Plan (1987-91) to a large extent continued to emphasize the goals of the previous plan. The government intended to accelerate import liberalization and to remove various types of restrictions and nontariff barriers on imports. These moves were designed to mitigate adverse effects, such as monetary expansion and delays in industrial structural adjustment, which can arise because of a large surplus of funds. Seoul pledged to continue phasing out direct assistance to specific industries and instead to expand manpower training and research and development in all industries, especially the small and medium-sized firms that had not received much government attention previously. Seoul hoped to accelerate the development of science and technology by raising the ratio of research and development investment from 2.4 percent of the GNP to over 3 percent by 1991.

The goal of the Seventh Five-Year Economic and Social Development Plan (1992-96), formulated in 1989, was to develop high-technology fields, such as microelectronics, new materials, fine chemicals, bioengineering, optics, and aerospace. Government and industry would work together to build high-technology facilities in seven provincial cities to better balance the geographic distribution of industry throughout South Korea.

Data as of June 1990

South Korea - TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • The Economy

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