The amount of exports by small and midium-sized enterprises (SMEs) came to US$108.70 billion (122.94 trillion won) last year, the highest ever. Yet the proportion that SMEs took up in South Korea’s total exports decreased in 2018, according to the data released by the Ministry of SMEs and Startups (MSS) on March 12.
SME exports surpassed US$100 billion (113.10 trillion won) in 2014 but plunged to US$96.20 billion (108.80 trillion won) in 2015. Then, the figure rose to US$99.50 billion (112.53 trillion won) in 2016, US$106.10 billion (120 trillion won) in 2017 and US$108.70 billion (122.94 trillion won) in 2018.
The number of SME exporters also hit a record high of 94,285 in 2018, up 1,911, or 2.1 percent, from a year ago.
However, the rate of SME export growth fell from 6.6 percent in 2017 to 2.5 percent in 2018, and the proportion of SME exports to the national total dropped from 20.1 percent in 2016 to 18.5 percent in 2017 and 18 percent in 2018.
An official from the MSS said, “This is because the statistics excluded 290 exporters which grew into 'high-potential mid-sized firms' last year and exports of conglomerates skyrocketed.”
SME exports have slowed down from November last year. Their exports decreased 3.9 percent in November and 11.6 percent in December, respectively. The figure showed an 1.9 percent increase in January this year but fell 3.8 percent again in February.