The Korean Ministry of Economy and Finance has initiated an ambitious new plan to assist Korean companies in winning international contracts focused on infrastructure programs overseas. In a nod to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic that has hurt national economies worldwide, the program is designed to help Korean suppliers in what is expected to be an extremely competitive race to secure these large contracts.

South Korean officials acknowledge that this program is a “pre-emptive” policy move because of expectations that major economies across the globe will be launching new infrastructure projects as a means of recovering from the fallout from the coronavirus shutdowns. They want to ensure that Korea businesses are well-positioned and supported to win new projects.

In a recent meeting with government officials to discuss economic challenges brought on by the virus, Deputy Prime Minister Hong Nam-ki said that they had identified 30 key projects — totaling more than $100 billion — with a particular focus on those that are likely to be successfully completed within the next two years. Nearly $30 million of that amount is anticipated to be finalized in 2020.

According to an article in The Korean Herald, South Korea has created a financial support task force and adopted the slogan “Team Korea,” with the Minister of Finance as the lead. He will be supported by the Land Ministry, Trade Ministry and the Foreign Ministry.

Korean officials have declined to release the full list of projects to be supported, citing diplomatic protocols with other nations. However, there is speculation that it includes a road construction project in Bangladesh, a new town model complex in Myanmar and several other similar projects in the Southeast Asian region. In addition, the Ministry is beginning discussions with Cambodia this summer of a free trade agreement between the two countries, following a joint feasibility study that was completed last year.