South Korea

south koreaSouth Korea’s exports amounted to US$573.1 billion in 2014, up 22.9% since 2010. South Korea’s top 10 exports accounted for 64.9% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, South Korea’s total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $1.7 trillion in 2014.

Therefore, exports accounted for about 32% of total South Korean economic output.

South Korea’s Top 10 Exports

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in South Korean global shipments during 2014. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from South Korea.

  1. Electronic equipment: $138,234,071,000 (24.1% of total exports)
  2. Vehicles excluding trains and streetcars: $73,343,530,000 (12.8%)
  3. Machinery: $63,051,130,000 (11.0%)
  4. Mineral fuels including oil: $52,670,787,000 (9.2%)
  5. Ships, boats and other floating structures: $38,339,918,000 (6.7%)
  6. Optical, technical and medical apparatus: $35,901,300,000 (6.3%)
  7. Plastics: $31,835,781,000 (5.6%)
  8. Organic chemicals: $24,398,046,000 (4.3%)
  9. Iron and steel: $23,958,185,000 (4.2%)
  10. Iron or steel products: $12,658,965,000 (2.2%)

South Korea is a highly export-driven and industrialized economy. The above list reflects the strong Korean focus on producing electronics, automobiles, machinery, petrochemicals, ships and robotics.

Among the top 10 exports, only ships, boats and other floating structures (down 18%) and optical, technical and medical apparatus (down 5.1%) declined over the 5-year period ending in 2014. Iron or steel products were up 64.7% followed by mineral fuels including oil up 61.7%.


South Korea imports mainly oil (23 percent of total imports), semiconductors (6 percent) and natural gas (5 percent). Other imports include coal, steel and iron ore. Main import partners are China (16 percent of total imports), Japan (12 percent), United States (8 percent) and Saudi Arabia (7 percent). Others include: the European Union (9 percent), ASEAN (10 percent) and Australia (5 percent).

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