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South Korea to invest US$267 million to fuel e-commerce growth

South Korea says it plans to invest US$267 million over the next three years to speed up the growth of the digital retail industry, which has recently enjoyed an unprecedented boom amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under the plan, the country will not only pave the way for online retailers to tap deeper into the overseas markets but help them adopt state-of-the-art technologies, including drones, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Around 4000 logistics robots will be distributed by 2023 to pave the way for fully fledged unmanned delivery services. This year South Korea plans to allow delivery robots to operate on sidewalks.

South Korea will also carry out some 1000 test runs for drone delivery service by next year.

The government plans to establish a standardised data base of around 3 million products by next year, which can provide a wide array of information on the goods to consumers, including on allergies.

The fund will be spent on establishing shared logistics centers for small and midsized companies by offering unused public-owned sites as well.

Other goals include fostering some 1200 experts through 2026 by opening new graduate and learning courses to meet the growing demand for online retail services.

The trade of hazardous items online will be strictly regulated under close ties with overseas organizations as well.

Seoul added it will actively participate in the negotiations at the World Trade Organization on setting international rules on the e-commerce segment and help local firms form deeper ties with global retailers.

The combined amount of transactions made through online platforms in South Korea reached $115 billion last year, growing more than sixfold from 10 years earlier, statistics showed.

Online platforms also accounted for 30 per cent of retail sales last year, growing sharply from the previous year’s 24 per cent amid the Covid-19 pandemic and social distancing rules.

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