Is Korea Losing Its Edge in the Global Market?

      May 22, 2023 13:00

      Korean exports seem to be losing their edge on the international market. Products that are thought to be losing out in the competition increased from 815 in 2013 to 846 last year, while Korean products that remained competitive in the global market dwindled from 401 to 375.
      Out of the country's top 10 exports, seven are losing out to foreign rivals. A decade ago, fuel was the only product Korea had to import, but now Korea also imports optical, precision and medical equipment as local products are no longer top of the range. Machinery, cars and ships also lost competitiveness. 
      The effects can be seen most drastically in trade with China. The number of products where Korea was overtaken by China increased by 145 items from a decade ago, while the number of Korea's exports where Korea has the edge over China declined by 128. Exports to Korea's biggest market have declined for 11 straight months, and China has fallen to 22nd place in terms of sources of a trade surplus for Korea.
      Exports are floundering due to the global economic slowdown. Semiconductor shipments, which account for 20 percent of Korea’s total exports, have fallen for nine consecutive months. But the diminishing edge of other Korean exports is perhaps more worrying. China is now competing with Korea in the same lineup of products and has caught up in high-value-added goods. Unless the country can drastically improve its technological standards in all areas, it will end up being left behind in the global market.

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