Competitiveness: Korea's Latest Economic Challenge
Korea is a tough economic competitor. Its meteoric rise over just 30 years from one of the poorest in the world to the ranks of the OECD helped earn Korea the moniker of "Asian tiger," and its recovery from the 1997 financial crisis reinforced this image.
Economic performance in 2007 underscores Korea's strengths. The economy expanded by 5.2 percent on an annualized basis in the third quarter. Industrial production and consumer sentiment are healthy. In spite of a strong won, exports remained robust in 2006, expanding to $332 billion, and export growth has continued apace in 2007, at 13.9 percent on an annual basis from January through October, off only slightly from 14.2 percent over the same period in the previous year. This is partly due to the increasing role of high value-added products, facilitated by a high level of investment in product development and design. Indeed, Korea ranks very highly on competitiveness indicators for technology and scientific infrastructure.