Flag South Korea

2019
Economic
Complexity
: 1.95, Rank 5 of 157

2019
Product
Exports | Imports
: $555B | $485B, 6 of 225 |  9 of 225

2019
Per Capita Product
Exports | Imports
: $10.7k | $9.38k, 52 of 219 |  59 of 219

2018
Service
Exports | Imports
: $96.3B | $118B, 8 of 88 | 8 of 88

Overview: In 2019 South Korea was the number 12 economy in the world in terms of GDP (current US$), the number 6 in total exports, the number 9 in total imports, the number 32 economy in terms of GDP per capita (current US$) and the number 5 most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI).

Exports: The top exports of South Korea are Integrated Circuits ($85.2B), Cars ($40.8B), Refined Petroleum ($38.9B), Vehicle Parts ($18.5B), and Passenger and Cargo Ships ($17.1B), exporting mostly to China ($136B), United States ($74.8B), Vietnam ($47.8B), Hong Kong ($31.6B), and Japan ($28.3B).

In 2019, South Korea was the world's biggest exporter of Passenger and Cargo Ships ($17.1B), Cyclic Hydrocarbons ($9.07B), Styrene Polymers ($3.5B), Synthetic Rubber ($2.76B), and Polycarboxylic Acids ($2.58B)

Imports: The top imports of South Korea are Crude Petroleum ($67.4B), Integrated Circuits ($34.3B), Petroleum Gas ($21.8B), Refined Petroleum ($18.4B), and Coal Briquettes ($11.8B), importing mostly from China ($108B), United States ($57.6B), Japan ($44.9B), Vietnam ($20.3B), and Saudi Arabia ($19.5B).

In 2019, South Korea was the world's biggest importer of Carbonates ($651M), Inorganic Compounds ($650M), Starch Residue ($444M), Cobalt Oxides and Hydroxides ($236M), Other Carbon Paper ($86.5M)

Location: South Korea borders North Korea by land and China and Japan by sea.

Latest Trends (February, 2021)

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Overview: In February 2021 South Korea exported $44.8B and imported $42.2B, resulting in a positive trade balance of $2.64B. Between February 2020 and February 2021 the exports of South Korea have increased by $3.9B (9.53%) from $40.9B to $44.8B, while imports increased by $5.21B (14.1%) from $37B to $42.2B.

Trade: In February 2021, the top exports of South Korea were Electrical machinery and equipment and parts... ($13.5B), Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical... ($5.38B), Vehicles; other than railway or tramway... ($5.28B), Plastics and articles thereof ($3.08B), and Mineral fuels, mineral oils and products... ($2.47B). In February 2021 the top imports of South Korea were Mineral fuels, mineral oils and products... ($9.57B), Electrical machinery and equipment and parts... ($7.69B), Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical... ($4.94B), Optical, photographic, cinematographic, measuring, checking, medical... ($1.81B), and Ores, slag and ash ($1.55B).

Destinations: In February 2021, South Korea exported mostly to China ($11.2B), United States ($6.4B), Vietnam ($3.91B), Hong Kong ($2.52B), and Japan ($2.18B), and imported mostly from China ($9.01B), United States ($5.75B), Japan ($4.1B), Australia ($2.2B), and Chinese Taipei ($1.77B).

Growth: In February 2021, the increase in South Korea's year-by-year exports was explained primarily by an increase in exports to China ($2.37B or 26.9%), Chinese Taipei ($601M or 56.4%), and United States ($468M or 7.89%), and product exports increase in Electrical machinery and equipment and parts... ($1.35B or 11.1%), Vehicles; other than railway or tramway... ($1.27B or 31.5%), and Plastics and articles thereof ($565M or 22.5%). In February 2021, the increase in South Korea's year-by-year imports was explained primarily by an increase in imports from China ($3.46B or 62.4%), Australia ($889M or 67.9%), and Chinese Taipei ($438M or 33%), and product imports increase in Nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical... ($1.26B or 34.3%), Electrical machinery and equipment and parts... ($1.25B or 19.4%), and Ores, slag and ash ($565M or 57.4%).

Comparison in Time

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Flow
Value

This section shows the differences between South Korea's total subnational aggregate trade throughout time.

Yearly Exports

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Value
Depth

Top Export (2019): Integrated Circuits, $85.2B

Top Destination (2019): China, $136B

In 2019, South Korea exported a total of $555B, making it the number 6 exporter in the world. During the last five reported years the exports of South Korea have changed by -$27.2B from $582B in 2014 to $555B in 2019.

The most recent exports are led by Integrated Circuits ($85.2B), Cars ($40.8B), Refined Petroleum ($38.9B), Vehicle Parts ($18.5B), and Passenger and Cargo Ships ($17.1B). The most common destination for the exports of South Korea are China ($136B), United States ($74.8B), Vietnam ($47.8B), Hong Kong ($31.6B), and Japan ($28.3B).

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Yearly Imports

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Value
Depth

Top Import (2019): Crude Petroleum, $67.4B

Top Origin (2019): China, $108B

In 2019 South Korea imported $485B, making it the number 9 trade destination in the world. During the last five reported years the imports of South Korea changed by -$20.6B from $506B in 2014 to $485B in 2019.

The most recent imports of South Korea are led by Crude Petroleum ($67.4B), Integrated Circuits ($34.3B), Petroleum Gas ($21.8B), Refined Petroleum ($18.4B), and Coal Briquettes ($11.8B). The most common import partners for South Korea are China ($108B), United States ($57.6B), Japan ($44.9B), Vietnam ($20.3B), and Saudi Arabia ($19.5B).

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Flow

Fastest Growing Export Markets (2018 - 2019)

Fastest Growing Import Markets (2018 - 2019)

South Korea Exports Services (2018): $96.3B

South Korea Imports Services (2018): $118B

In 2018, South Korea exported $96.3B worth of services. The top services exported by South Korea in 2018 were Transportation ($27.7B), Other business services ($21.7B), Travel ($15.3B), Construction services ($12.7B), and Royalties and license fees ($7.75B).

The top services imported by South Korea in 2018 were Other business services ($32.9B), Transportation ($32.1B), Travel ($32B), Royalties and license fees ($9.88B), and Construction services ($3.27B).

Tariffs by Product

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The top product import tariffs by their MFN Ad Valorem value for South Korea are Cereals unmilled nes (800%) and Cereals: fonio (Digitaria spp.) (800%).

Click any of the products in the bar chart to see the specific Ad Valorem Duty Rates by partner country.

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*The tariffs applied to imports for South Korea are:
84: Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN ) Free Trade Area
136: Most Favoured Nation duty rate treatement
165: Preferential tariff for Australia
168: Preferential tariff for Bangladesh
178: Preferential tariff for Canada
182: Preferential tariff for Chile
184: Preferential tariff for China
189: Preferential tariff for Colombia
217: Preferential tariff for European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries
218: Preferential tariff for European Union countries
238: Preferential tariff for Iceland
239: Preferential tariff for India
252: Preferential tariff for Lao PDR
254: Preferential tariff for Least Developed Countries
277: Preferential tariff for New Zealand
281: Preferential tariff for Norway
289: Preferential tariff for Peru
299: Preferential tariff for Singapore
306: Preferential tariff for Switzerland
312: Preferential tariff for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
322: Preferential tariff for Turkey
329: Preferential tariff for United States under (AUSFTA) Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement
333: Preferential tariff for Vietnam
335: Preferential tariff selected (GSTP) Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries
340: Preferential tariff under the Trade Negotiations among Developing Countries (TNDC) in WTO
343: Preferential trade agreement (APTA) Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement or (Previously named:Bangkok Agreement)

Economic Complexity

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Economic Complexity Ranking

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Scale

During the last 20 years South Korea's⁩ ⁨economy has become relatively mÑs complex, moving from the ⁩⁨23rd to the 5th⁩ position in the ECI rank.

These economic complexity rankings use 6 digit exports classified according to the HS96 classification. We consider only countries with population of at least 1 million and exports of at least $1 billion, and products with world trade over $500 million. To explore different rankings and vary these parameters visit the custom rankings section.

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Most Specialized Products by RCA Index

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South Korea has a high level of specialization in Oxometallic or Peroxometallic Acid Salts (10.2), Halides (8.47), Passenger and Cargo Ships (7.96), Cast or Rolled Glass (7.47), and Cyclic Hydrocarbons (6.48). Specialization is measured using RCA, an index that takes the ratio between South Korea observed and expected exports in each product.

Most Complex Products by PCI

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The highest complexity exports of South Korea according to the product complexity index (PCI) are Photo plate, film, exposed or developed, except cine (2.76), Machining centre, single/multistation transfer machine (2.42), Equipment for photographic laboratories nes (2.25), Chemical element/compound wafers doped for electronics (2.18), and Chemical preparations for photographic use (2.12). PCI measures the knowledge intensity of a product by considering the knowledge intensity of its exporters.

Export Opportunities by Relatedness

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The top export opportunities for South Korea according to the relatedness index, are Photographic Film (0.3), Incomplete Movement Sets (0.29), Blown Glass (0.29), Other Electrical Machinery (0.28), and Watch Movements (0.28). Relatedness measures the distance between a country's current exports and each product. The barchart show only products that South Korea is not specialized in.

The product space is a network connecting products that are likely to be co-exported. The product space can be used to predict future exports, since countries are more likely to start exporting products that are related to current exports. Relatedness measures the distance between a product, and all of the products it is currently specialized in.

Diversification Frontier

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Depth

The Complexity-Relatedness diagram compares the risk and the strategic value of a country's potential export oppotunities. Relatedness is a predictive of the probability that a country increases its exports in a product. Complexity, is associated with higher levels of income, economic growth, less income inequality, and lower emissions.