Successful Brand Guarantee Program
KOTRA issues guarantee brand logos to support SMEs exploring overseas markets
The Korea Investment and Trade Promotion Agency (KOTRA) said its project "KOTRA Guarantee Brand" has been a great success with the number of firms participating in the program climbing to 511 from 30 when it was first launched at the end of last year.
The project became so popular among exporters that it selected 170 firms by April 30 as new members, although its initial plan was to add only 70 firms in the first half, and KOTRA has also already completed its plan to select 200 firms and put them on the list of companies in the program, the state-run trade promotion agency said.
On April 30, KOTRA Guarantee Brand Certificates were passed out to the 170 new member firms by President Cho Hwan-eik in the presence of CEOs of the new member firms and dignitaries including Eo Yun-dae, chairman of the National Brand Committee, Deputy Minister Lee Dong-won of the Ministry of Knowledge Economy and Chairman Lee Yu-jong of the Korea Industrial Technology Testing Institute, among others.
The 170 companies which newly joined KOTRA's guarantee brand program are manufacturers with 50 of them made of parts makers and machinery plant companies numbering 89 altogether, 44 in the areas of IT and new industry taking up 26 percent, 41 makers of consumer goods, accounting for 25 percent.
All of them had 35 percent of their sales from overseas on average with average annual exports totaling $8.95 million. The selection of these firms was made by a number of organizations closely aligned with the manufacturing industry including the MKE, KOTRA, the Korea Export Insurance Co., the Small Business Corp., the Korea Credit Guarantee Fund and the Korea Industrial Technology Testing Institute, in addition to the KOTRA Guarantee Brand Selection Committee.
Key factors for screening candidates were financial soundness, export capability, marketing viability and the degree of intention to participate in the program.
Support from various quarters of the country for the member firms has been increasing. Korea Export Insurance Corp. expanded the limit for export insurance and discounted insurance premiums and trade claim insurance, giving them special treatment.
The Korea Industrial Technology Testing Institute has been issuing overseas certificates, discounts in fees and technology guidance to SMEs. The Industrial Bank of Korea has been providing favorable interest rates to member firms if their credit ratings are above B, one percent below general interest rates.
The purpose of the KOTRA Guarantee Brand Program is to give support to the brand images of Korean products by making use of KOTRA's widely known brand image throughout the world to boost the degree of trust for Korean export firms and products.
One of the most difficult problems for foreign buyers of Korean goods has been the lack of knowledge and trust in them. KOTRA conducted a survey of 150 foreign buyers and found that 99 percent of them favored the use of KOTRA guarantee brand with 9 percent of them willing to pay expenses.
Based on the survey results, KOTRA decided to issue the "KOTRA Seal of Excellence, a Mark of Quality, High-Technology & Trustworthiness" to the products of the selected Korean manufacturers to promote exports of those products.
The logo is similar to the "Taiwan Excellence," Italy's "I Love Italian Shoes" and the "Swiss Made" logos attached to products from those countries to boost their exports. Seoul City, too, has been issuing the Excellent Company Brand of Seoul for some 60 Korean companies selected to help increase their exports.
KOTRA plans to increase the number of Korean companies on the guarantee brand program to 500 by 2011 and provide a list of side benefits, in addition to allowing the use of the logos on their products.
KOTRA will give them support for their overseas marketing efforts. The export promotion agency will allow them to use its exhibition facilities overseas, use its logistics centers and use its overseas offices as liaison offices. KOTRA will cover 50 percent of their total overseas marketing expenses or a maximum of 5 million won in the form of coupons.
KOTRA will select recipients when it launches its overseas marketing support programs. nw
KOTRA President Cho Hwan-eik shakes hands with Hado CEO Ok Pyung-kwon after delivering a certificate of "KOTRA Guarantee Brand."
KOTRA President Cho Hwan-eik