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International investing is more appropriate than ever for Asian countries like South Korea, Japan, and India. These emerging markets are predicted to generate big gains for investors due to aspects such as their growing middle-classes, stimulative economic policies, and even the depreciation of the U.S. dollar. 

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The Olympics have been a household staple occurring biannually for multiple centuries now. In less than 100 days, PyeongChang, South Korea will join the ranks of other cities who have had the honor of hosting the Games. This event kicks off with opening ceremonies starting on February 9th, with competitive events beginning on the 8th, till the 25th with 102 events in 15 sports. This year will be the first year for big air snowboarding, which is replacing the parallel slalom, mixed doubles curling, mass start speed skating and mixed team alpine skiing. However, with the hype of Olympics still growing, through social media, ticket sales have not been following the same trend.

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South Korea has been under tremendous pressure as tensions increase due to China’s boycott of South Korean products, North Korea firing missiles, and the United States insisting that South Korea increase its defense. Recently, North Korea has been testing ballistic missiles and firing them near Japan and South Korea, and this has many countries concerned with their defense systems. The U.S. argued that Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), “an American missile defense system designed to shoot down short and intermediate range missiles in the terminal phase”, was needed in South Korea to protect the country from the North. Therefore, Seoul's government agreed to increase its defense system and install THAAD on its soil.

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The Korea Fair Trade Commission, a corporate regulator based in South Korea, declared that it would fine mobile chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. a hefty $853 million over the company’s purported abuse of antitrust laws. The announcement comes at the end of the Commission's three-year investigation of Qualcomm and constitutes the highest such fine charged to an individual United States-based company. The Commission concluded that Qualcomm broke antitrust laws by refusing patent access to competing chipmakers and by withholding necessary phone chips in order to pressure mobile manufacturers into strict licensing agreements. In addition, the Commission claimed that Qualcomm used patents from other chipmakers without fair compensation. Qualcomm has stated they will appeal this decision to the Seoul High Court, professing that their licensing practices follow decades-old industry standards. 

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East Asia is home to three of the biggest economic powerhouses in the world: China, Japan, and South Korea. Thus, the well-being of the global economy often depends on the region's pecuniary health. Central banks already hold the utmost power in this regard; yet, in recent times, each nation's bank has led endeavors to consolidate further economic control. The effects of these measures, along with last week's global market shakeups, have paved a path of economic uncertainty. Here is a look at recent developments in East Asian central banks.

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South Korea is in uncharted waters. Amid recent economic turmoil in Asia, South Korea has become a safe haven for foreign assets. Some have speculated that emerging market investors have gotten smarter, and therefore can identify countries within the space that are better long term investments. Another school of thought, however, is that South Korea has transcended from an emerging market to a fully developed nation, and therefore presents more security in the face of economic trouble. 

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On Monday, Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, went to South Korea for a two-day visit with its president, Park Geun-hye. On that day, the duo signed seven agreements dealing with various economic issues, discussed investments and political issues, and improved their bilateral relations. The two countries have vastly improved their relationship, elevating their relationship to a "Special Strategic Partnership". By improving both political and economic ties between the countries and opening up special business deals, Modi's visit is one that could prove vastly beneficial to both countries and potentially the global economy.

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Latin America, a region once plagued with high inflation, has seen a drastic shift in spending and consumption trends in the past decade. This shift of consumption has been due to multiple factors, particularly the economic boom and declining poverty of the region. In the past decade, 50 million people in Latin America have joined the middle class according to a World Bank study.

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As the international community continues to strive towards clean, renewable energy, South Korea has turned towards an abundant resource to power the future: the powerful waves of the Yellow Sea. Marine experts from Orkney, Scotland have recently agreed to advise South Korean engineers during the construction of a new tidal testing center in the northwestern Incheon Metropolitan City. The European Marine Energy Centre, or EMEC, has been operating in Scotland since 2003, where it has been developing technologies that generate electricity by harnessing the power of waves and tidal streams. Although the turbulent waves of the Yellow Sea have been noted as "very tough to work in," and EMEC spokeman has said that the waters offer some of the world's most tidal conditions, therefore making it a superb resource.

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The US Commercial Service is hosting a webinar to highlight the new opportunities and positive outcomes from the recent free trade agreement with Korea. The U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement took effect earlier this month on March 15th and has provided many new business and trade possibilities. Billions of dollars in tariffs are expected to be eliminated due to this new agreement. It is estimated that up to 95% of bilateral trade with Korea will be duty free within the next 5 years. This will benefit a wide variety of industries: agriculture, services, financial services, and more!

This webinar, which will detail more specific benefits, will be held on April 12th from 2-3pm EST and does require a $15 fee along with registration. To find out more information and details about the webinar, please visit the export.gov website. Here you will also find information on how to register for the webinar event!

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Over the past years, free trade agreements have proven to be one of the most effective ways to open up foreign markets for businesses looking to export overseas. Trade agreements help reduce barriers for these businesses and eliminate costly tariffs on imports. The creation of more transparent trading promoted by free trade agreements also contributes to an easier environment for the exporting of goods and services. This past week, the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement entered into full force, creating many opportunities for increased trade between the two countries.

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As globalization increases, small businesses are gaining many opportunities to export their products overseas. However, less than two percent of all United States companies export to foreign markets. With the National Export Initiative, the United States plans to turn this surprising fact around and double U.S. exports within the upcoming years. Small businesses can play a crucial role in helping the United States accomplish its exporting goals. In fact, some small businesses in the United States have already found success in markets abroad.

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With the announcement of North Korea's Kim Jong II's death on Monday, many business and world leaders are trying to figure out what will happen with the historically volatile country. Although the US places strict restrictions on how US businesses can interact with North Korea, other countries are much more liberal and have created many opportunities for their businesses to profit from relations with North Korea.

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While many countries look to drive their economies by increasing trade and consumer spending, South Korea is looking in another direction. Renewable energy sources and projects are being used to boost business and promote economic growth in South Korea. The term “Green Growth” has been coined by the country and has become a major national strategy. This strategy has given rise to a vast range of policies regarding waste-management and air-quality control. However, South Korea’s main focus lies within renewable energy technologies with the mission not only to lower greenhouse gas emissions but to also boost the economy.

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Online shopping is being used in many countries around the world and its use is becoming more widespread each year. In emerging countries such as India, the e-commerce market is growing rapidly with over three thousand e-commerce centers found online. Recently, businesses in South Korea have taken online shopping to the next level by allowing people to shop in virtual supermarkets with their smartphone.

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This past week, the United States passed a trio of free trade agreements removing trade barriers with the countries of Panama, South Korea, and Colombia. The free trade agreements will have many impacts on international trade tendencies between these countries as the pacts will essentially eliminate tariffs faced by exporters in all four countries. Exports of each country are expected to rise as a result of the agreements and many businesses small or large will be able to compete in new markets abroad. The trade relationships between each country will dramatically change as the new trade agreements mark the biggest opportunity for exporting businesses in decades.

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Products by large companies such as Samsung and Hyundai are crucial to keeping South Korea’s economy afloat however the country’s small and medium-sized businesses may be even more important. These smaller businesses provide more than 80 percent of the country’s jobs but are beginning to feel the pressure from Korea’s big conglomerates. The number of smaller firms competing in various sectors has been reduced to just a handful because of the difficulties of earning a profit in the face of big company demands. This is not the only concern for small-businesses in South Korea.

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In a recent Forbes article, they highlighted the top 10 green companies in the world. These companies have all in some way contributed a global environmental management system by reducing emissions, adjusting their manufacturing process, becoming environmentally certified and doing the best to adjust their performance records into a more positive light.

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In 2001, global economist Jim O’Neill labeled Brazil, Russia, India, and China as the premier emerging markets of the world with enormous economic potential. The mainstream BRIC acronym was applied to these countries and the hype surrounding these countries was well deserved. Over the past decade, the countries have contributed to over a third of world GDP growth. Recently, Jim O’Neill named the next tier of large emerging economies using the term MIST – or Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, and Turkey.

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Wondering where to go next? The answer is easy, Korea. Approaching the top ten largest economies in the world, it is often overlooked because of its physical distance and the close proximity of its big brothers China and Japan. In fact, Korea has recently doubled its GDP and its imports from the United States. So while recent news may be bringing adverse attention to Korea, it is starting to bring to the spotlight an economy that is growing and is expected to soon become a major economic partner of the United States.

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On November 23rd North Korea fired artillery on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong as a response to South Korea performing military drills near disputed maritime border. Besides the obvious restrictions set on North Korea by global super powers, some businesses are also taking steps to protect their employees from the potential threat.

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Last week I had a unique opportunity to hear the Korean Ambassador to the United States, Han Duk-soo, speak at a luncheon in East Lansing, Michigan. The event was sponsored by the Global Business Club of Mid-Michigan. The ambassador has been traveling to various locations throughout the Midwest to tout the benefits of passing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United States and Korea. Currently, the agreement has been tabled by Congress due to other higher priority matters.

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A recent report by the Boston Consulting Group which measures the government policies and corporate performance most encouraging to innovation has Singapore as the number one global leader of innovation, followed by South Korea at number two. Former innovation leaders from the west such as the United States and Germany dropped to numbers eight and nineteen, respectively. What exactly has contributed to this?

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A new release by the FTSE Group indicates that South Korea is now worthy of having its name placed among the ranks of the world’s elite “developed” markets. The FTSE’s listing of developed markets is closely monitored by investment fund managers, who use the designation as a means of allocating capital to various markets. South Korea’s new status means that it is likely to benefit from tens of billions of dollars in foreign capital. The boost to national pride from finally being viewed as “developed” is not a bad perk either…