KOIMA to ease US trade pressure on Korea

KOIMA to ease US trade pressure on Korea

The association of 8,000 importers here will send a trade delegation to the United States and take other steps to ease growing U.S. pressure on Korea to import more from, and export less to, the world’s largest economy, its representative said Tuesday.

In an interview with The Korea Times, Korea Importers Association (KOIMA) Chairman Shin Myoung-jin said he will lead the delegation, vowing to play a crucial role in defending Korea’s interests in a possible looming trade battle with the United States.

“Everybody is concerned that Korea’s outbound shipments to its second largest export market could decline after Donald Trump becomes the U.S. president next January,” Shin said. “Korea will certainly face growing pressure to import more from the United States. As a preemptive step, KOIMA is encouraging its members to increase imports so that local exporters will be hit less by Trump’s protectionist trade policies.”

The chairman, who took office March 1, said he has been organizing the delegation, stressing that it will change the perception of Korea among U.S. politicians and businessmen that Asia’s fourth-largest economy imports as much as it exports to the United States.

“Our member firms, who account for more than 85 percent of Korea’s imports, are moving to conduct more dealings with U.S. firms. This will significantly help alleviate any looming trade pressure on the country,” Shin said. “We want the public to know that importers are as important as exporters for open economies like Korea.”

The country must import raw materials and other items to manufacture a range of industrial products and ship them to foreign markets, the chairman said, stressing that importers are the backbone of its trade-oriented economy.

“KOIMA and its members have been underrated over the years. I think it is time for us to step up efforts to publicize who we are and what we do. When people know what role we play, KOIMA will be able to do more to support its member companies and create a more favorable trade environment for local exporters,” Shin said.

The association has also been acting as a gateway to Korea for foreign companies looking to do business in Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

“KOIMA is the most frequently visited business association by foreign envoys here because many companies in their home countries want to export goods to Korea,” the chairman said. “In addition, many trade ministers and other government officials visiting Korea come to us to find new business opportunities for their firms back home. KOIMA members wield huge buying power but only a few people know this.”

KOIMA, established in 1970, expects more than 250 foreign envoys and heads of its member firms will attend its 46th anniversary celebration, Dec. 13.

“Of the 103 foreign ambassadors to Korea, we expect about 60 to attend the event, showing our close relations with the foreign diplomatic community,” he said. “KOIMA will continue to nurture win-win partnerships with the foreign envoys, as well as create new opportunities for our members and their foreign partners.”

Shin then called on the government to extend more support to KOIMA, stressing that it works hard to improve Korea’s trade imbalance with its partners.

“The country’s many trade partners complain about their trade deficits with Korea. That’s where importers come in and balance the trade to a certain degree,” the chairman said. “KOIMA has dispatched groups of importers to many countries that post chronic trade deficits with Korea. Our members’ dealings have smoothed their complaints and improve the business environment for local exporters. The government should extend greater financial and other support so that we can do more.”


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