(ATTN: UPDATES with details in para 3, last 3 paras)
By Kang Yoon-seung
SEJONG, Sept. 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korea plans to invest around 2.2 trillion won (US$1.65 billion) through 2028 to establish industrial clusters for cutting-edge technologies, the finance ministry said Monday.
The country will initially allocate 400 billion won in 2024 for industrial zones specialized in strategic and medical industries, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
"To enhance the competitiveness of our industries and stimulate new growth engines, we plan to accelerate the development of cutting-edge global clusters, and promote the digitalization of small and medium-sized firms," Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho said during a meeting with economy-related ministers.
To further speed up the establishment of clusters for strategic and advanced industries, the country will also seek to skip a feasibility study on the plan to create the world's largest semiconductor cluster south of Seoul.
The new chip complex, announced earlier this year, will be built in Yongin near chip facilities run by Samsung Electronics Co. and SK hynix Inc., as well as a number of parts and equipment companies, paving the way for the world's largest mega cluster for semiconductors.
The government will also expand cash subsidies to foreign companies specialized in cutting-edge technologies at such clusters to 200 billion won in 2024 compared to 50 billion won allocated for this year.
The country will include eight biopharmaceutical technologies into the state-selected list of strategic industries to give local drugmakers additional tax cuts for their research and investment as well.
Another batch of 1.8 trillion won will be spent on rolling out research projects with major institutions from overseas in 2024, in areas including semiconductors, displays and batteries.
South Korea plans to invest 86.4 billion won in 2024 on the so-called Boston-Korea project, which aims to connect South Korean institutions with those based in Boston, including Harvard University, it added.
"Recently, the South Korean economy has been showing signs of an eased slowdown on the back of improving chip exports, better job data and the rise in the number of Chinese tourists," Choo also said during the meeting.
"But there are also uncertainties for a global economic slowdown as major countries maintain monetary tightening moves, with the volatility in the global oil price remaining uncertain," the minister added.
Choo said the government plans to continue to take watchful eyes on risks from home and abroad to stabilize prices ahead of the Chuseok holiday, the autumn harvest celebration, which falls in late September.