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South Korea's Naver Cloud sees exports doubling on AI boom -CEO

By Joyce Lee

SEOUL, Dec 8 (Reuters) - The cloud computing and artificial intelligence arm of South Korea's Naver expects its exports to at least double in three years, saying its AI services can be easily tailored to suit buyers in regions outside China and the United States.

South Korea is one of the few countries with its own foundational artificial intelligence models. Tech giant Naver is also one of the only global firms with a dominant local search engine to compete with Alphabet's Google.

"The U.S. and China hold technological hegemony... They set the standards, which often means their technologies are a difficult fit for situations in countries around them, like regulations, users, companies," providing a competitive edge for Korean firms, Naver Cloud CEO Kim Yuwon told Reuters.

The company declined to give export figures, but in October Naver affiliates won a $100 million export contract to provide digital twin mapping services to Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs. More regional projects are expected in the future, Kim said.

Kim said the company was in advanced talks with entities in the United Arab Emirates, the Philippines and Singapore.

Such countries are eager to adopt AI, and "have demands to create an ecosystem within them, rather than buying it from the U.S. or China unilaterally", Kim said.

Naver's unit Naver Cloud provides AI services, cloud computing, corporate services such as co-working tools, and designs and operates data centres. It opened the country's largest data centre last month, a facility that can accommodate up to 600,000 servers.

With other units providing working in areas such as robotics, overseas clients could get a suite of services, Kim said.

"When you're not choosing a U.S. 'global standard' service, there are concerns that what you're buying may not be compatible with the next technology... not so with Naver," he added. (Reporting by Joyce Lee. Editing by Ed Davies and Gerry Doyle)

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