SOUTH KOREA: Korea eyes more petrochemical exports in 2012

The country's exports of petrochemical products, such as plastic and fertilizers, reached USD 45.5 billion in 2011, up 27.5 percent from USD 35.7 billion worth of products shipped a year earlier, according to the Korea Petrochemical Industry Association. The association, however, said the growth rate this year will likely slow down significantly to a gain of 4.3 percent to reach USD 47.5 billion.

The Ministry of Knowledge Economy, which promotes the country's trade, earlier said the large increase in the country's exports of petrochemical products last year was due to the collapse of Japanese competitors, whose production facilities were nearly destroyed by a powerful earthquake and tsunami in March.

"The petrochemical industry will launch a joint research center to further improve its technology competitiveness while fully utilizing the country's free trade agreements to expand its export market," the association said.

To this end, the industry as a whole plans to invest 7.5 trillion won this year, up from last year's 7.3 trillion won, for technology development and expansion of production facilities, it added.Source: Daily "The Korea Times", Seoul, through Yonhap News Agency; 13 Jan 2012(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)