The government plans to convert its present 'protectionist policies' for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and venture firms into 'selectively support policies' through reinforcement of competition systems.
  On March 28, Commerce, Industry and Energy Minister Lee Hee-Beom announced the plan at the 66th CEO Forum held jointly by the Korea Industrial Technology Foundation (KOTEF) and National Academy of Engineering of Korea (NAC).
  Saying, "The government will improve its existing protective and cultivation-oriented SME policies and provide support for SMEs selectively so that those firms with technological capability can adapt themselves to global competition," Minister Lee announced that the government would intensively foster 30,000 innovation-type SMEs by 2008.
  Minister Lee went on to say, "To strengthen cooperation between large enterprises and SMEs, the government will assist them in organizing joint studies for product planning, marketing and technologies and also in sharing patented technologies and patent information." In this regard, he cited the example of Samsung Electronics creation of a 600-billion-won import substitution effect through its joint development of localized items with SMEs after providing equipment and purchasing guarantees.
  Pointing out that balanced industrial development nationwide is another strategy for across-the-board growth, the minister said, "The government will nurture strategic industries appropriate to regional characteristics so that relevant regions can identify innovative resources." He also disclosed that his ministry would induce job creation and industrial development through expansion of regional specialty industries, for example, textiles/mechatronics in Daegu, footwear/parts and materials in Busan, optical/electronic parts in Gwangju, and automobiles/machinery in Jeolla and Jeju provinces.