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The Peninsula

Small and Medium Enterprises In the Spotlight as Efficient Exporters

Published March 30, 2020
Author: Korea View

This briefing comes from Korea View, a weekly newsletter published by the Korea Economic Institute. Korea View aims to cover developments that reveal trends on the Korean Peninsula but receive little attention in the United States. If you would like to sign up, please find the online form here.

What Happened

  • The Blue House announced that 17 countries have officially requested testing kits from South Korea.
  • According to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, seven companies have been licensed to export their coronavirus testing kit. All companies authorized by the government were small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
  • These SMEs had begun developing diagnostic kits in January and had obtained export permits from the Ministry of Food and Drug Administration in February.

Implications: Going against the long-held assumption that large companies are more competitive exporters, SMEs are receiving positive media attention for their quick production of export-ready coronavirus testing kits. News sources have contrasted the speed of SME pharmaceutical companies to that of their larger peers such as Celltrion, which only began developing testing kits in March. The media narrative attributed this agility to more efficient decision making processes that SMEs enjoy.

Context: SME pharmaceutical companies have contributed to developing responses to past public health crises. For example, Kogenebiotech developed diagnostic products during the H1N1 outbreak in 2009 and the MERS outbreak in 2015, supplying them to national organizations and medical institutions. The company used these experiences to further burnish their capacity to address the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. But the media only recently began casting a more positive spotlight on these companies – perhaps due to the scale of the ongoing public health crisis.

Korea View was edited by Yong Kwon with the help of Gordon Henning, Soojin Hwang, Hyungim Jang, and Ingyeong Park.

Picture from flickr account of syed zaheer

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