back to article South Korea joins the ‘we’re going to be self-sufficient in more tech and then export bucketloads’ club

South Korea has become the latest nation to decide that it should become more self-sufficient in key technologies and by doing so turn itself into an exporter. Japan is the main target of this renewed effort, which began last year when South Korea named 100 products it wanted to start making itself without the help of its …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Every country cannot be self-sufficient in everything

    But it is a good thing that more countries will become self-sufficient in more things. However, if there are more countries selling the same goods, prices will fall.

    In the end, it just might mean less international transport of said goods since there will be less countries that need those goods.

    On the other hand, more silicon fabs means more poisoning of underground aquifers, and that just can't be a good thing. I really hope that those countries will have a good grasp of controlling industrial pollution, else the health impact of their self-sufficiency will be ghastly.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Every country cannot be self-sufficient in everything

      >prices will fall

      Except that in response to Japan will tariff Korean products so Korea will respond by blocking Japanese products and so you'll have less choice and higher prices in each country

      But this is totally Trump style electioneering. S Korea has been stirring up anti-japan rhetoric for a while to boost nationalist politicians

      1. Schultz Silver badge

        Re: Every country cannot be self-sufficient in everything

        This particular story began with a South Korean Court finding that some Japanese companies owe financial restitution to make up for Korean forced labor in the second world War. This led to a mighty political row, and eventually to a rather mysterious decision by Japan to end free trade on some strategic products. These included crucial supplies for Koreas electronic industry - a rather big party of Koreas export oriented industry. This led to a very predictable scramble to find alternate suppliers, ideally within Korea.

        For decades, the world moved toward a highly integrated supply chain. Now, some politicians show that these supply chains can be rather fragile if you are have the wrong kind of nationalists in charge (putting your own country first, without any vare for the bigger picture). This will cost the world dearly, but maybe we'll have more robust supply chains as a result. Otoh, we may just end up with increasing nationalism, tit for tat politics, and all kinds of international conflictsnrhe we all but forgot about in the golden age of international cooperation.

    2. Marketing Hack Silver badge

      Re: Every country cannot be self-sufficient in everything

      I think that we need to set some baselines on self-sufficiency in certain key items. For example, finished products like N95 masks or pharmaceuticals. Here in the U.S., I heard that something like 70% of our aluminum production is now imported. You can certainly argue that a key basic ingredient like aluminum should have a larger domestic capacity.

      Things like toys, clothes, furniture, maybe some consumer electronics, can be left to the pure free market. Other than that, I think that most nations should try to meeting somewhere in the 70% range of their consumption of truly strategic/national security materials from domestic production, or from guaranteed-reliable international friends. Obviously, this is not going to work for fossil fuels or specialty metals and such, but in general I think each nation should have enough capacity for strategic materials that they can at least have a chance to sustain their needs domestically, if a rationing system can be put in place.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. rcxb Silver badge

        Re: Every country cannot be self-sufficient in everything

        Here in the U.S., I heard that something like 70% of our aluminum production is now imported. You can certainly argue that a key basic ingredient like aluminum should have a larger domestic capacity.

        No, you can't. You don't WANT to make basic ingredients domestically. They are extremely low-profit. What you want is a reliable supply of it, and while it's "imported" to the US, it's not coming from one or two nations, but all over the world. Why would the US be concerned that aluminum is being imported from Canada, Iceland, etc? There's no reason to care.

        What's more, one of the big three suppliers of al is Alcoa... The last A stands for "America". The US might have a little bit of influence on them.

      3. NeilPost Bronze badge

        Re: Every country cannot be self-sufficient in everything

        You import Aluminium.

        Whatever you want to call it past that is up to you.

    3. Glen 1 Silver badge

      Re: Every country cannot be self-sufficient in everything

      or... everyone buys the from the cheapest supplier that is "good enough". Creating defacto monopolies, if not for individual companies, then for countries/areas those items are produced.

      Which is exactly how we got here in the first place.

      Remember Thailand's floods affecting hard drive supplies in 2011?

      The capacitor plague from Taiwan?

      When people try to switch suppliers en mass, there is a lag while production is ramped up. The thing is, such increases not sustainable, as once supply is restored, everyone switches back, because of the same reasons that made them pick those suppliers in the first place.

      Yes, there are things you can to do mitigate, but at a cost. At some point a bean-counter is going to try to shave that cost.

      The bottom line rules all, it would seem.

    4. NeilPost Bronze badge

      Re: Every country cannot be self-sufficient in everything

      Remind me how was the UK going to ‘Get Brexit Done?’

  2. RobvS

    Everyone want to be a self-sufficient exporter?

    I always find this puzzling:

    "South Korea has become the latest nation to decide that it should become more self-sufficient in key technologies and by doing so turn itself into an exporter."

    If every industrial country becomes self-sufficient AND a mass-exporter, who will buy the stuff? I can totally understand that nations want to plan a diversification of their supply chains by producing stuff themselves. But I do not understand how they can believe they will be able to do so while exporting massive amounts of these products to OTHER countries who are doing the same?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Everyone want to be a self-sufficient exporter?

      It's just like brexit, we will sign trade deals that give us access to a global market while not allowing any imports that threaten British farmers or manufacturing

    2. DS999
      Facepalm

      Re: Everyone want to be a self-sufficient exporter?

      The author was making a joke, I guess it went 'whoosh' over your head. Of course there is no one to export to if everyone is self sufficient...

  3. cornetman Silver badge

    TBH, there's not a lot to dislike here.

    It's true that not all countries can make all things (obviously there are limits based on local resources) but a diversified market is a healthy market that is more resilient to disaster.

  4. mark l 2 Silver badge

    While I can understand why countries want to become more self-sufficient. I do feel like the environmental impact of everyone doing there own thing may take a backseat which can only be bad for all of us.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Actually, this could all be a good thing. A global cellphone market has given us Henry Fords apocryphal model T choice: You can can have any type of cellphone, as long as it is an iphone copy. There are exactly 2 OS's, and that only so there is something special for the more well to do.

    Really, apart from quality, the Soviets could not have done worse if they tried.

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