By Kang Yoon-seung
SEOUL, April 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korea on Wednesday unveiled an additional aid package worth at least 36 trillion won (US$29.5 billion) to help exporters and brace for the long-term economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the plan, the country will extend the maturity of trade insurance worth 30 trillion won for exporters by one year without additional charges, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
To further revitalize exports, South Korea said it will spend another 5 trillion won in cheap loans and guarantees to companies seeking to win major overseas projects.
Small and midsized firms will be also provided with a 50 percent discount in their trade insurance programs, the ministry added.
The extra aid package came as the new coronavirus has rekindled yet another concern over South Korean exports, which fell by over 10 percent last year in the face of the lengthy trade row between Washington and Beijing.
Outbound shipments edged down 0.2 percent in March from a year earlier but will face a bumpy road down the road, as the pandemic disrupted the global supply chain. South Korea's outbound shipments had dropped for 14 consecutive months before gaining 4.5 percent on-year in February.
The country said it will also make efforts to prod other nations to lift entry bans currently imposed against its nationals around the globe and operate special chartered flights for business officials.
Exporters of medical devices and sanitary items will receive support in terms of shipping and marketing as well.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already led to a sharp increase in exports of consumer goods and medical products in March from a year earlier.
Outbound shipments of processed foodstuffs and hand sanitizers soared 54.1 percent and 81.4 percent, respectively, over the period. Shipments of medical test kits doubled on-year in March.
The aid package for exporters is the latest in a series of stimulus measures sought after by the country.
In late March, the government doubled the size of an emergency financing aid package to 100 trillion won for local businesses to minimize economic fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak.