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Global trade

KOTRA to lead trade digitalization with AI, big data

By Mar 31, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA)
Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA)

South Korea’s state-funded Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) is undergoing a full-scale digital transformation to expedite international trade activities of the country’s small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

According to the trade community on Mar. 31, KOTRA has assisted 127 export deal closures last year through its revamped big data platform, with a total export value of $3.63 million.

The agency had kicked off an online big data platform project in June 2019 to digitally facilitate SMEs' trade-related agendas, such as the search for potential buyers, local market research, demand analysis and pricing.  

The platform, launched last year, became an immediate success among SMEs hit hard by the global pandemic.

The impact of COVID-19 caused cancellations, postponements and suspensions of global exhibitions and face-to-face consultations, stages that were considered essential for any trade deal to close successfully. But these steps can now be conducted online through KOTRA's big data platform.

The online platform had drawn only 2,260 monthly visits during its earlier months of service, but the number has increased by more than 10 times to more than 35,000 visits.

“For companies like us without a long track record in global trade, the most valuable information is the list of potential buyers that are actually interested in our products. The search for buyers had previously taken several days, but now we do it in just three minutes on the new KOTRA platform,” said a spokesman of a fertilizer company.

The big data platform offers a diverse range of services including but not limited to AI-powered reporting on exports, AI consulting on growing markets and segments, automatic matching with overseas companies as well as information on potential buyers.

“KOTRA platform’s big data analysis offers detailed consumer trend and demand information on the products that we make, allowing an easier estimate of export prices,” said a representative of a cosmetics company.

To ensure user-friendliness and accuracy of the platform, KOTRA has digitalized an immense set of trade data accumulated since the agency’s establishment in 1962.

Specifically, the agency used 76,000 sets of market intelligence data, more than 300,000 sets of overseas company information, 1 billion sets of global export statistics as well as information on business consultations conducted more than 500 times per year.

The agency said a full-fledged version of its digital platform will be showcased in May. The agency will also digitalize 30% of all its services in the next three years.

“KOTRA will continue to strengthen our trade-investment big data platform to connect growing markets and potential buyers with Korea’s SMEs that are in need of digital capabilities,” said KOTRA CEO Kwon Pyung-oh.

KOTRA currently operates 127 overseas offices in 84 countries.

Write to Kyung-Min Kang at

Daniel Cho edited this article.

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