China's Proportion of Korean Exports Declines

  • By Jo Jae-hee

    July 01, 2022 12:59

    The proportion of Korea's exports that is sold to China has been shrinking since 2018, which is good news for those who worry that the country is becoming too dependent on its giant neighbor.
    The figure surged from 10.7 percent in 2000 to 26.8 percent in 2018. Cheap labor prompted Korean manufacturers to set up factories in China, and Korean exporters began supplying them with intermediate goods, contributing to the surging proportion.
    Last year, more than a quarter of Korea's total exports of US$644.4 billion still went to China, which has been the top export destination since 2003.
    By contrast, the U.S.' proportion of Korea's exports has shrunk to little more than 10 percent. In the late 1980s, it stood at around 35 percent and remained above 20 percent until the early 2000s. The EU's proportion fell to the single digits after 2010.
    But China's proportion is edging down now from 25 percent in 2021 to 23.4 percent in the first five months of this year, the lowest since 2009.
    The main reason is that Korean manufacturers started moving their factories to Vietnam and India when the climate in China became more hostile, but supply chain disruptions and lockdowns in China also played a part.
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