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Korea fights online retail imbalance

Korea’s government wants domestic online retailers to boost sales to foreign shoppers as it tries to right the eCommerce trade imbalance.

Korean trade authorities reported this week that direct purchases by foreigners from Korean online shopping malls totalled 370 billion won (US$344 million) last year – that’s about 14 times more than previously reported by the Customs Service.

But it represents a fraction of the estimated 2 trillion won that Koreans spent online in the same period on foreign websites.

The Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra) is providing shipping subsidies of up to 4 million won a year to about 500 Korean small manufacturers and retailers. It will open shipping warehouses in Tokyo and Los Angeles to take care of storage, wrapping, shipping and returns for Korean businesses selling online into the US and Japan markets.

By the end of the year, Kotra will open two shipping centers in Los Angeles and Tokyo dedicated to retail sales. The agency takes care of all shipping processes, from storage and wrapping to shipping and returns.

A Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry study released last month showed China was the largest buyer of Korean products via online shopping malls. It urged the online community to target Chinese shoppers, given they are forecast to spend US$12 million on overseas sites in 2018, up from $35.2 billion last year.

Korea’s Small and Medium Business Administration is to give 1500 small manufacturers an entry into five global online malls: eBay, Amazon, Rakuten, TaoBao and QOO10.


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