SMEs and Startups Minister Lee Young speaks during a press briefing at the Central Government Complex in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)
The Ministry of SMEs and Startups said Thursday it has designated three new regions -- South Jeolla, North Gyeongsang and South Gyeongsang Provinces -- as regional vanguards to boost South Korea’s eco-friendly mobility business.
According to the ministry, the three selected zones will be exempt from a number of regulations that might hinder the growth-engine sector for four years from September this year to August 2026. They will also be given the opportunity to attract investment and create new jobs there.
Under the government’s plan, South Jeolla Province will become a regulation-free zone in converting internal combustion engine vehicles to electric cars, and to implement the test driving of such vehicles.
“Although there are over 56,000 EVs converted in the country, the existing law lacks provisions allowing test-driving of the vehicles, which has hindered market growth,” the ministry said.
North Gyeongsang Province will be at the forefront of three businesses -- wireless charging for EVs at gas stations, wireless charging connected to wired chargers and wireless charging for small EVs.
The current law prohibits gas stations from installing wireless charging facilities for EVs and lacks guidelines on how to receive government approval in order to set up electric equipment for EVs.
Through the EV projects, the provincial government aims to develop next-generation wireless charging technology that is twice as fast as the current EV wireless charging system.
In a move to promote eco-friendly vessels, South Gyeongsang Province is set to build ships that use zero-carbon ammonia and diesel fuel.
Despite the international community’s strengthened measures to cut the carbon intensity of ships, South Korea doesn’t have any evaluation guidelines for mixed-fuel vessels, the ministry said.
“Unlike before, we plan to make a task force team composed of industry experts as well as ministry staff to preemptively look into easing regulations on emerging industries such as artificial intelligence and bio tech,” said SMEs and Startups Minister Lee Young during a press briefing.
“In the era of digital transformation, boundaries among industry sectors, research and development segments and proprietary technologies are becoming unclear. So we will make efforts to draw up guidelines enabling us and other government agencies to carry out tasks within the selected regions as one team,” Lee added.
By 2026, the ministry expects to boost 168 billion won ($128 million) worth of business, create 582 new jobs and relocate 32 companies within the four districts.
Until now, the ministry has designated 24 regulation-free zones. It has picked Busan, Daegu and two cities in North Gyeongsang Province as high-performing regions for having laid the groundwork for innovative sectors like blockchain, recyclable batteries, industrial hemp, and robots.
By Byun Hye-jin (firstname.lastname@example.org)