The total amount of Korea’s export items holding top spots in world markets has reportedly been stagnant for several years, while the figure for China has been growing.
According to a report titled “Korea’s export competitiveness in the amount of world number one export items” published by the Institute for International Trade (IIT) of the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) on January 22, Korea saw 64 of its export items top the global export rankings in 2012, which put the nation 14th in rank. By comparison, 61 export items placed first in the rankings in 2011, with the country at 15th. Korea’s representative number one export items were semiconductor memory, auto parts, tankers, and chemicals.
China was in first place with 1,485 top-ranked export items. The next spot was taken by Germany (703 items), followed by the US (603) and Japan (231).
Korea posted 71 top items in 2010, 61 in 2011, and 64 in 2012, whereas China recorded 1,351, 1,417, and 1,485 top items during the same period.
In particular, China’s share of 12 items among Korea’s 64 top-ranked export items in 2012, such as electronic devices, textile goods, and transport machines, has been increasing. In semiconductor memory exports, the gap between Korea and China is said to have been narrowed to below 3%.
Korea, however, showed the potential to become a developed country in major export types. Most chemical products made in Korea became global number one export items in 2012, while textile goods, which are one of a developing country’s main export items, did not belong to Korea’s top-ranked export items.
Related to this issue, an official at the IIT said, “In the past, Korea primarily produced 20 types of chemical products, 10 types of steel products, and 7 types of electronic devices that were global number one export items. Among these, only chemical products have increased in number over the past five years.”
Meanwhile, Korea’s export items holding the 2nd to 10th spots in the global market increased to 1,330 in 2012, a year-on-year increase of 74 items, which is the highest-ever result over the past five years. It means that an increasing number and a wide range of Korean goods were recognized for product quality in global markets, even though the total number of top-ranked export items decreased. As a result, the ratio of Korea’s global number one export items to the nation’s total exports was 16.7% in 2012, down 2% from the previous year.