Digital transformation of SMEs for cross-border trade and e-commerce in the Republic of Korea: insights for Latin America and the Caribbean
The rapid evolution of digital technologies has reshaped global business, forcing not only large but also small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to embrace digital trade. Nevertheless, many SMEs are struggling to fully implement digital technologies. Against this backdrop, the Republic of Korea has bolstered its support for SMEs, with a focus on human capital development, financing, and research and development. Furthermore, the country has revised its trade regulations and frameworks, placing significant emphasis on digital capacity-building and the alignment of regulations with international standards.
Despite the disparities in digital infrastructure and skills, the experience of the Republic of Korea is a useful model for Latin America and the Caribbean, offering invaluable insights for policymakers, businesses and stakeholders seeking to navigate the evolving digital landscape and facilitate SME growth and internationalization. In addition, deeper collaboration could be pursued between the Republic of Korea and the region, in particular in the realms of expanding and enhancing access to information and communications technologies (ICTs), upskilling the workforce, strengthening data protection and broadening the scope of trade to include digital services.
Operational aspects of support programmes for the digital transformation of exporting small and medium-sized enterprises in the Republic of Korea
Because international trade is essential for the Republic of Korea’s economic growth and development, the government actively promotes exports by large companies and especially by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Several programmes support participation by SMEs in cross-border e-commerce, which may have contributed to their rapidly rising exports through this channel. This report reviews selected programmes implemented by the Korea SMEs and Startups Agency (KOSME) and the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA). To maximize the programmes’ impact, KOSME and KOTRA apply a circular process of assigning the required budget, selecting the most promising SMEs, coordinating with private sector stakeholders, and evaluating results. This document reviews each of these aspects in detail for a selection of the programmes.