Brisk exports helped Korea post a record trade volume of US$533.4 billion in the first half of this year, with the figure expected to smash the $1 trillion mark by the end of November.
Exports rose 24.4 percent on-year to $275.4 billion, while imports grew 26.6 percent to $258 billion, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy on Friday. Judging by last year's figures, when trade volume stood at $466.5 billion in the first six months and then grew 9.7 percent in the second half, Korea appears well on track to smash the ten-figure mark this year one month before Christmas.
The ministry has upwardly revised its forecast for the whole of 2011 to $1.09 trillion, based on exports of $557 billion and imports of $528 billion, which would result in a trade surplus to $29 billion.
This is a gigantic leap from the situation half a century ago, when the nation's trade volume stood at a mere $50 million with exports of $3.5 million and imports of $49.5 million, as recorded in 1946. Korea hit the $1 billion mark two decades later in 1967 before passing the $10 billion mark in 1974 and the $100 billion mark in 1988.
The speed at which Korea is set to achieve this feat is nothing short of remarkable. None of the eight countries that have met the $1 trillion landmark so far have managed to do so in such a short space of time, except for China. France, which did so in 2006, and the U.K. and the Netherlands, which both hit it in 2007, took over 30 years to expand their trade volume from $100 billion. In contrast, Korea will do so in only 23 years. The others -- the U.S., Germany, Japan and Italy -- all needed significantly longer.
Meanwhile, Korea is expected to overtake the U.K. and France to rank among the world's five largest traders in two to three years due to the steep increase in its exports in the wake of the global financial crisis in 2008.