Lim Sung-hyun and Lee Eun-joo
South Korea’s exports surpassed $600 billion for the first time this year, becoming the world’s seventh country to reach the milestone on the back of robust sales of semiconductors and petroleum products, data showed on Friday.
According to preliminary data released by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Korea’s accumulated exports exceeded $600 billion as of 11:12 a.m. on Friday. It is the first time for Korea to reach the milestone in 70 years since it began its first shipments in 1948 and in seven years since it surpassed $500 billion threshold in 2011. Korea is the seventh country in the world to achieve the annual export figure after the United States, Germany, China, Japan, the Netherlands, and France.
Data also showed that Korea’s exports accounted for an all-time high of 3.4 percent of global exports this year, maintaining its position as the world’s sixth biggest exporter.
Korea’s export growth has accelerated by an annual average of 16.1 percent in between 1948 and 2017. Its annual average export growth until last year was 7.2 percent since it surpassed $100 billion, the highest after China with 13.6 percent. It took Korea 23 years for exports to surpass $600 billion after breaking $100 billion, which is the fourth-fastest in the world.
The trade ministry said that exports this year were driven by robust shipments of traditional items such as semiconductors, general machinery, and petroleum products as well as of items in new industries and promising consumer goods. The country’s 13 major export items accounted for 77.7 percent of total exports this year, down from 82.1 percent in 2011. Markets for export have also been diversified to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, India, and Commonwealth of Independent States.