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[Editorial] Stellar Success on the Global Market

Posted August. 05, 2009 07:33,   


Korean companies have grabbed global attention in making batteries for electric cars. German carmaker BMW will purchase lithium-ion battery cells for its electric vehicles exclusively from a joint venture between Bosch and Samsung SDI from 2010 until 2020. General Motors in January decided to buy the same item from LG Chem under a six-year deal worth one trillion won (818.7 million U.S. dollars) per year. Korea has outshined competitors Japan and China in the market for electric car batteries.

Korean companies have also taken a big leap forward in semiconductors, LCD, mobile phones, cars and shipbuilding this year. In the global semiconductor market, Korea owns 60 percent -- 37.2 percent by Samsung Electronics and 23.8 percent by Hynix Semiconductor. Korea also owns more than half of the world LCD market. In the cell phone market, Korea’s share has grown so rapidly, it will soon become the world’s biggest exporter of the product. In the first seven months of the year, the Hyundai Kia Automotive Group beat Nissan Motor of Japan in sales volume in the U.S. market and rose to become the world’s No. 6 carmaker. Samsung Heavy Industries signed an exclusive deal with Royal Dutch/Shell Group to provide facilities worth 50 billion dollars over the next 15 years. In short, Korean companies have strengthened their prowess in the global market despite the financial crisis.

Korea is a small divided nation in territory and population. It also has scarce natural resources and its political situation is in a state of confusion. Given that, the stellar growth of Korean companies is all the more laudable. GM, which had long been considered as the pride of the U.S., has seen a spectacular fall and countless global companies including Sony and Toyota Motor of Japan have suffered their worst performances in history. Nevertheless, Korean companies have achieved impressive growth thanks to global recognition of their technologies and quality.

Yet no company can enjoy the luxury of lowering its guard in the midst of cutthroat competition. Only those who keep innovating by developing new technologies and tapping new markets can survive. Ceaseless innovative efforts will allow Korean companies to become global leaders in other sectors. Korean cell phone exporters should break the long-standing practice of paying hefty royalties. To this end, they should develop their own source technologies, better pursue green growth, and secure resources required to develop state-of-the-art technology. The Japanese and Chinese governments have helped their companies to secure resources in Latin America and Africa.

If more Korean companies turn into global leaders, Korea can efficiently deal with pending issues such as employment, welfare and the gap between the wealthy and the poor. The government can improve quality of life for its people only when it changes the relevant systems and environment to help Korean companies perform well on the global market. The Korean perception of corporations should also be improved.