Korea IT exports up, but does a “crisis” loom?

May 6, 2004 – Technology exports from South Korea were up more than 42% in April to $5.88 billion, the ninth consecutive month of year-on-year growth, according to the Ministry of Information and Communication. Major contributors to the increase were a 57% boost in semiconductors to $2.19 billion due to stable DRAM prices, and a 64% rise in mobile phones. The trade surplus for overall IT products reached $2.46 billion for the month, and $9.7 billion for the first four months of the year.

Despite the positive numbers, South Korea’s electronics industry could be facing “huge challenges” over the next couple of years due to a lack of protection in intellectual property, according to an analyst quoted by local newswires.

Speaking at the Seoul Digital Forum, iSuppli president and CEO Dan Lidow said that although the country is a recognized leader in DRAM, TFT-LCD panels, and mobile phones, manufacturers are particularly vulnerable to IP rights including core technologies and patents.

He cited that at the end of 2003, South Korean companies accounted for 2.25% of all patents relating to OLEDs. Also, the top buyers of electronic parts account for 53% of all purchases worldwide, which will “significantly affect South Korean companies’ prices and profitability,” Lidow said.


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