The amount of exports by Korean small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the aggregate number of Korean exporters both hit a record high last year.
The Ministry of SMEs and Startups (MSS) released a report titled “Trend of SME Exports in 2018” on Jan. 20. The report said that the amount of exports by SMEs stood at US$114.60 billion (128.64 trillion won) last year, up 8 percent from a year earlier, while the number of exporters grew by 2.4 percent to 94,589.
Exports by SMEs exceeded US$100 billion (112.25 trillion won) for two years in a row and reached a record high in 2018.
SMEs accounted for 18.9 percent of the total exports, up 0.4 percent point from a year ago, thanks to good performance in major items, including cosmetics.
By item, flat panel display manufacturing equipment showed the highest export growth rate of 68 percent, followed by semiconductor manufacturing equipment at 34 percent, cosmetics at 27.7 percent, steel plate at 13.8 percent and synthetic resins at 12.6 percent. Flat panel display manufacturing equipment and semiconductor manufacturing equipment made the top 10 export item list for the first time with booming semiconductor exports.
SMEs recorded the highest-ever amount of exports in five out of top 10 countries in terms of exports, including China, India, Thailand, Mexico and the United States. The exports to China and the United States reached an all time high despite uncertainty from the trade dispute between the two superpowers.
In addition, Mexico has become an emerging country of SME exports after it joined the top 10 exporting countries in 2015 for the first time, showing the highest growth among the top 10.