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  Korea Report - February 2018
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Korea Report - February, 2018.

The opening ceremony for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games was held on 9th. A total of 3,000 people were part of the six-part performances at the ceremony directed by Song Seung-hwan. The participating athletes paraded into the arena to Psys Gangnam Style. But the highlight of the event was when South and North Korean teams marched in together to the song Arirang. SKoreas figure skating hero Kim Yuna wrapped up the ceremony by lighting the Olympic cauldron. The US sent the largest group of athletes, with 242 players. SKorea sent 144 athletes to PyeongChang. Six countries, Ecuador, Malaysia, Singapore, Eritrea, Kosovo and Nigeria, participated in the Winter Games for the first time at PyeongChang,

After more than two weeks of chivalrous camaraderie among the worlds top athletes, the PyeongChang Winter Games came to a genteel close on 25th evening. The quadrennial event made it the largest Winter Olympics in history. The athletes competed for 102 gold medals across 15 disciplines. SKorea captured 5 gold, 8 silver and 4 bronze medals for an overall finish of seventh place. The top spot overall went to Norway with 14 gold, 14 silver and 11 bronze, closely trailed by Germany with 14 gold, 10 silver and 7 bronze and Canada with 11 gold, 8 silver and 10 bronze.

US President Donald Trumps remarks on 12th to push for a reciprocal tax on Korea has been met with a chilly reaction from lawmakers and trade experts here, with criticism of it being a nonexisting concept that takes another step toward trade protectionism and may violate international trade norms. He specifically named Korea, Japan and China. Trumps frequent but seemingly imprudent words on protectionism have similarly invoked negative reactions from industry watchers here. The phrase, reciprocal tax itself does not exist. It is nonsense in the way Trump said he would build a wall along the border with Mexico, which he hasnt. He is losing trust by pouring out such rash words, said Je Hyung-jeong, a researcher at Korea International Trade Association.

A global automakers move that could potentially lead to a withdrawal of business here, key rates pressures, and increasing trade pressure from the US, are the three major US-related hurdles weighing upon SKoreas economy this year. In the industrial sector, GM Koreas decision to shut down its Gunsan plant after 22 years of operation is increasingly imposing strain upon the local economy and Seouls government. GM recorded KW2 tril ($1.9 bil) in accumulated losses in 2014-2016. In return of a $2.7 bil debt-for-equity swap and $2.8 bil in investment over the next 10 years, the company requested financial aid, suggesting that the Korean governments decision on the matter may decide the fate of three remaining plants.

Koreas Big 3 have contracted 35 ships with total value close to $3.2 bil, as of end Feb 2018. HHI stood at first place among Big 3 on the basis of contract value. HHI Group has concluded eco-friendly gas carriers and VLCCs worth $1.2 bil. HHI Group (HHI and HSHI) have so far this year won total 10 vessels (4 VLCCs, 3 VLGCs, 2 VLOCs and 1 LNGC), worth $956 mil in total. When adding HMDs new orders for 6 containerships, 1 PC and 2 LPGCs worth $269 mil, HHI Groups total contract value comes to 19 vessels of about $1.23 bil in total. SHI and DSME, while desperately promoting its sales activity to fill up their berths, were awarded with mega containerships and VLCCs orders. DSME contracted new orders worth $1.02 bil in total during the first two months of this year. On the month of Feb, it secured 7 ships (4 LNGCs, 3 VLCCs), all environmental friendly and high value-added ships. Including a special vessel, DSME has won 8 ships worth the total of $1.02 bil for the period. SHI contracted 9 vessels worth total $950 mil. On Feb alone, it won 8 units of mega container ships and one LNGC. Koreas Big 3 are rallying for successful new orders on the back of recovering market conditions centered by LNG carrier orders, and the outlook for the year 2018 seems bright.

HMM is planning to order a total of 20 units of vessels in the first half, 2018. The fleet is expected to include 12 x 22,000 teu containerships and 8 x 13,000-14,000 teu containerships. They will be deployed to new routes in Europe and East Coast of North America. The shipping company is currently in talks for shared routes in the North American region with Zim Line. HMM secured KW600 bil by recapitalization last year, and is planning to invest around KW200 bil to newbuilding orders. The newbuilding activity can get acceleration if it can be assisted by Korea Maritime Promotion Agency. HMM is expected to seek order before July, as it is aiming the delivery in 2020.


The Olympics have returned to SKorea 30 years after Seoul hosted the Summer Games [p.2]

US President Donald Trumps push for a reciprocal tax on Korea [p.3]

Korea signed a FTA with Central America on 21st [p.4]

NKs high-ranking delegation attended PyeongChang Olympics opening ceremony [p.6]

280-member NKorean delegation, including 229 cheerleaders, arrived in SKorea on 7th [p.7]

NKorean leader Kim Jong-un called for continued reconciliatory efforts with SKorea [p.8]

NKorean ranking military officials visit during Olympic closing, fueled concerns [p.8]

SKoreas economy entered recovery track, steered by strong exports [p.9]

BOK signed a currency swap deal on 20th with the Swiss National Bank [p.10]

SKorea posted trade surplus of $3.31 bil in Feb [p.10]

SKorea faces far more import restrictions from the US than any other country [p.12]

SEC Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong was freed on 1st [p.13]

SEC was reported to be worth KW301.8 tril ($276.6 bil) as of end 2017 [p.13]

SK Innovation discovered crude oil at a Chinese block in the South China Sea [p.14]

GM made a widely anticipated decision to permanently close its plant in Gunsan [p.15]

SKorea's foreign exchange reserves fell $960 mil to $394.8 bil in Feb [p.18]

BOK held the base interest rate steady at 1.5% on 27th [p.19]

Big 3 have contracted 35 ships with total value close to $3.2 bil, as of end Feb [p.19]

DSME to issue KW48.3 bil ($44.86 mil) 30-year convertible bond on March 14th [p.23]

HMM plans to order a total of 20 units of vessels in the first half, 2018 [p.24]



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