A total of 64 Korean export products had the biggest share in the global market in 2012, placing the country at 14th in the world. But the number of Korean exports accounting for the largest slices of their respective markets has been falling from 74 in 2009.
The Korea International Trade Association on Wednesday said China ranked first with a total of 1,485 top-ranked export products, followed by Germany (703), the U.S. (603), Japan (231), Italy (228), the Netherlands (144), India (138), France (104), Belgium (94), and the U.K. (81).
Among Asian countries, Hong Kong (65) was just ahead in 13th place, while Indonesia followed in 15th (60).
Although the number of top-ranked Korean exports increased from 2011 to 2012, experts worry about the steady decline over the mid-term. Top-ranked Korean exports increased from 58 in 2008 to 74 in 2009, but dwindled to 71 in 2010 and have not surpassed 70 since.
This is primarily because Korean-made textiles and steel products, which once reigned supreme, have been overtaken by Chinese products. For instance, three textile products including knitwear and underwear and two steel products including stainless and flat-rolled steel lost their No. 1 positions to Chinese rivals.
Chinese manufacturers have overtaken Korean ones in 440 out of 779 textile products and 50 out of 166 leather and rubber products, shoes and travel-related products, which led Korea's export front in the 1980s and '90s.
Chinese manufacturers are also expanding their market shares in the areas of chemicals, steel and electronic equipment, which are Korea's main export products. And seven top-ranked Korean products including semiconductors are seeing their Chinese rivals catch up at alarming speed.
Shin Seung-kwan at KITA said, "Korea ranks seventh in the world in terms of exports but stands at only 14th place in terms of market-leading products. We desperately need to strengthen competitiveness for both the product itself and design and logistics."