ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon Twitter
Economy

South Korea exports expand 25.8% in 2021, sharpest in 11 years

Exports value hits record buoyed by post-pandemic recoveries in global demand

South Korea's exports to China, its biggest trading partner, gained 22.9% in 2021, and those to the United States and European Union jumped 29.4% and 33.9%.   © Reuters

SEOUL (Reuters) -- South Korea's exports expanded at their fastest pace in 11 years in 2021, with the total export value reaching a record high, supported by post-pandemic recoveries in global demand.

For the full year, exports rose 25.8% from a year earlier to $644.54 billion, trade ministry data showed on Saturday, the fastest pace since 2010.

That also marked the first growth in three years after contractions of 5.5% and 10.4% in 2020 and 2019, respectively.

"Now is the time to head towards the $700 billion export-era ... The trade ministry will step up policy efforts so that industries and exports can tow the complete (economic) normalisation this year," Minister Moon Sung-wook said.

A breakdown by items showed exports of semiconductors jumped 29% year-on-year to a record $128 billion, while those of petrochemicals also surged 54.8% to a record $55.1 billion. Other items such as cars and steel jumped 24.2% and 37%, respectively.

By destination, exports to China, South Korea's biggest trading partner, rose 22.9%, and those to the United States and the European Union jumped 29.4% and 33.9%.

Meanwhile, imports for the full year jumped 31.5% to a record $615.1 billion, rebounding from a 7.1% contraction in 2020.

Moon also said the ministry is reviewing joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and aims for more trade pacts to expand its export markets.

Saturday's data also showed exports in the final month of the year expanded 18.3% year-on-year, extending growth into a 14th straight month, though the rate was slower than 32% in November. A Reuters' poll of 13 economists had expected 22% growth.

Total exports stood at $60.74 billion in December, the largest ever monthly figure.

A 35.1% jump in semiconductors exports led December growth, while overall exports to China and the United States also soared 20.8% and 22.9%, respectively.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more