Korea’s Certified Trading Companies Expanding into Global Markets


The Certified Trading Company system, launched by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy in 2014, refers to the companies with excellent export capabilities designated to develop new markets, discover new products, and expand exports of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It is designed to help companies starting export business that lack experience and overseas networks to diversify export markets and find foreign buyers by providing export agency services.
The Certified Trading Company system began as a private enterprise system introduced by the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) with a view to promoting the exports of SMEs’ products via agencies after the general trading company system was abolished in 2009.
Since then, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) has decided that active roles of the certified trading companies with overseas marketing capability are required in order to support exports of the SMEs. It is being operated as it is now, as the system was upgraded to a statutory designation system by reflecting MOTIE’s decision in the Foreign Trade Law in 2014.
Cris Son, manager of the International Marketing Department at KITA, said, “Realistically, it is very difficult for the small and medium-sized companies or startups to manage all the processes, from product development, to production, distribution and export.” He also stressed, “The certified trading company system is the main platform to boost the exports of small and medium-sized enterprises.”
The Certified Trading Company for this year includes a total of 391 companies, an increase of about 28% from 306 companies in 2019, consisting of 15 large companies and 16 mid-sized companies covering the fields of consumer goods, equipment, agricultural and fishery products, and quarantine products. It is expected that SMEs will be able to utilize a variety of overseas distribution networks.

Certified Trading Company targets companies qualified by the government by meeting requirements such as export performance, thereby enabling fast product sourcing and stable transactions. This system facilitates the efficient identification of excellent traders to import fine products from Korea. In addition, it allows potential customers to obtain information or trade with companies provided without having to contact them individually.
In case of difficulties related to language barriers or lack of experience with a Korean company, Certified Trading Company also provides trading agency services. (Note: Agency commission may be required depending on the item and transaction size)
This year, it is planning to expand “Untact Video Conferences” in addition to offline so that export items and marketing strategies can be discussed in-depth during the COVID-19 Pandemic. It also plans to diversify its support by actively discovering new promising export items such as K-Quarantine supplies that have recently drawn global attention, and promoting marketing through Trade Korea, a special online space.

Korea International Trade Association (KITA)

The Korea International Trade Association (KITA) was established in 1946 with the objective of advancing the Korean economy through trade, and is currently the largest business organization in Korea with over 70,000 member companies.
Representing the interests of Korea’s global traders, KITA fulfills a diverse range of roles including: providing hands-on support to trading companies, promoting trade cooperation in the private sector, formulating new trade strategies, nurturing trade professionals, and building trade infrastructure.
With a widely established network of 13 domestic offices and 11 overseas branches in major cities, KITA has consolidated its position as a leading business organization dedicated to assisting SMEs in gaining foreign market entry. KITA has actively contributed toward Korea’s recent achievement of one trillion dollars in trade volume.

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