At a meeting with members of the American Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday, he highlighted developments such as the distriparks at Pusan and Gwangyang (Kwangyang) ports, which are now attractive sites for investment.
Ports are the core distribution arm of the Korean economy, where 99.7 per cent of all export and import cargo is handled. In effect, they form the centre of the country's logistics, fisheries and international trade sectors.
Korea is now concentrating its efforts on transforming these ports into super-size container ports to serve the Pacific rim. Total cargo traffic is expected to increase to 1.4 billion tons by the year 2011, partly because of the country's ideal geographical location. It is at the center of the world's trunk routes, including the North American route, the Southeast Asian route and the European route.
And according to the government, its ports possess more favorable conditions compared to competing Japanese ports of Kobe and Yokohama in handling transshipment cargo originating from China, Russia and Northwestern Japan.
However, at present, port facilities are capable of handling only 84 per cent of the expected total cargo traffic volume, and container handling facilities are only 80 per cent sufficient. Based on the potential for growth therefore, the Korean government is promoting its ports as ripe for investment.
"Although many companies are establishing their logistic centres and manufacturing factories in China, it would be more efficient to use Korean ports," said minister Chang Seung-woo.
"Since Korean ports provide highly developed logistics services connected to China's main ports, the companies with factories in China can also effectively transport to their ultimate destinations around the world through Korean ports."
At the recent conference, the minister outlined the government's plans to develop the nation into a logistics hub for Northeast Asia. Chang reasserted his government's desire to press ahead with plans to transform the country into one of the top five logistics and fisheries nations by 2010.
"We will work on systematically expanding infrastructure at Pusan New Port and Gwangyang Port. Distriparks at Pusan New Port and Gwangyang Port will offer great advantages in attracting foreign investors," he said.
Pusan port features 21 berths at container terminals. As of 2000, it ranked 3rd in the world after Hong Kong and Singapore. But under the Pusan New Port project, terminals with a total of 30 berths will be developed by 2011.
According to a report in the Korea Times, the operation of a terminal with three berths is planned to begin from 2006 with more planned for later.
Pusan and neighbouring Jinhae city are also jointly forming a 105-square-kilometer special industrial complex for logistics companies and related businesses. The economic zone authority aims to take advantage of its strategic location, which bridges Japan and China, and the Northeast Asian continent and the Pacific Ocean.
In addition, Gwangyang Port now handles a rapidly growing amount of cargo. The port is scheduled to be developed into a 33-berth super-scale container port by 2011.