A Vital Agency Aiding Korea’s Economic Development
Korea’s remarkable economic growth over the past several decades has been accompanied by an equally stunning expansion of Korean exports to global markets, which has been the major growth engine driving the nation’s prosperity. At the vanguard of Korea’s export economy is the Korea Trade- Investment Promotion Agency(KOTRA), charged with promoting the country’s trade, attracting foreign investment, and forming cooperative technological and industrial partnerships with leading global corporations and organizations.
Founded in 1962 as the Korea Trade Promotion Corporation, the establishment of the national trade promotion organization coincided with the birth of Korea’s industrialization and economic expansion. Exports led the development of the national economy, aided by a variety of trade promotion initiatives overseen by KOTRA. The organization helps Korean firms analyze foreign markets, provides administrative support, and links potential overseas buyers with Korean companies seeking markets for their products. In 1995, the name of the organization was changed to the Korea Trade- Investment Promotion Agency in order to reflect the role of KOTRA in a new global age, as foreign companies increasingly sought to invest directly in Korea.
KOTRA’s main responsibilities include the facilitation of international trade, promoting foreign investment in Korea, providing information and data to both Korean companies and foreign buyers, and operating a network of branch offices called Korea Business Centers around the world to gather information, establish contracts, and aid Korean companies operating in foreign markets. KOTRA’s overseas network includes 126 Korea Business Centers in 86 countries.
The organization supports the export activities of Korean companies through business matchmaking that aims to link foreign buyers with the right products made by Korean companies. KOTRA holds trade shows, exhibitions, seminars and business meetings to help foreign companies seeking new products or partners in Korea. As part of these efforts, KOTRA also provides support for Korean companies participating in international exhibitions and conferences by setting up “Korea Pavilions” designed to promote Korean industries and increase awareness.
As one of Korea’s most prominent government organizations, KOTRA has assisted the nation’s economic development. The organization has adapted to changing market conditions, by creating new support systems for investment in Korea as well as responding to new demand for Korean cultural contents, such as movies, TV dramas and computer games, in markets around the world.
What is the Overseas Branch Office Project?
The Overseas Branch Offi ce Project (hereinafter, “the Project”) has been promoted since 2000. The Project is designed to provide support for Korean small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with certified goods in entering new markets and in making export deals with the close cooperation of the Korea Trade- Investment Agency (KOTRA), a state-funded organization operated by the Korean government.
KOTRA’s overseas trade centers serve as a one-on-one partner with domestic export companies designated for the Project to help the companies enter new markets. The centers enable export companies to obtain the maximum effect at a minimum cost through overseas branch offices, and provide comprehensive support for all activities needed for exploring new overseas markets ranging from the decision of overseas expansion to the stage of export performance.
What is special about the Overseas Branch Office Project?
The Project is led by KOTRA overseas trade centers to help domestic companies without overseas branch offices enter new overseas markets in carrying out research in relevant areas and finding export trade channels. For companies to participate in the Project, they are required to hold excellent products equivalent to promising export items in countries or regions where KOTRA overseas trade centers are located.
A company under the Project is thoroughly selected through prior examination by reviewing the marketability of products. The product of a certain company is reviewed as to whether it holds the marketability in a country that intends to import, and such product is required to prove that it is more excellent than the existing products. Only when a company has passed through a series of reviews can the company participate in the Project by making a contract among the company-overseas trade center-KOTRA headquarters.
How does the Overseas Branch Office Project work?
KOTRA is responsible for the companies selected for the Project from start to finish. Currently, 125 overseas trade centers, which are located in 85 countries and in 10 regions, take the lead in exploring new overseas markets by about competent 400 staff in charge of the Project. The centers help enhance the accessibility between companies and overseas buyers by inviting overseas branch office workers to overseas trade centers. They select both a company for the overseas branch office and the most suitable local company through cooperation with experts who have professional knowledge of the relevant products.
Additionally, even after the termination of the agreement with the overseas branch office, the centers help improve the stability of local companies and provide support for exports by off ering after-sales services for about six months in terms of the contents of consultation with buyers with whom such company maintained business relations during the period of the agreement.
Companies for overseas branch offices are excellent SMEs that the Korean government and KOTRA guarantee. Such companies can promptly respond to the needs and demand of overseas buyers through overseas trade centers located in 125 cities across the world. They also provide products that take the lead in the market, meeting the needs of buyers and the trends through KOTRA’s market research.