Overview In 2019 South Korea was the number 12 economy in the world in terms of GDP (current US$), the number 6 in total exports, the number 9 in total imports, the number N/A economy in terms of GDP per capita (current US$) 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), and Other Carbon Paper ($86.5M)

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

October, 2021

Historical Data

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Yearly Exports

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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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Fastest Growing Import Markets (N/A - N/A)

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.

*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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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 a country currently specializes in.

Relatedness Space

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This network shows the products most related to the production structure of South Korea. These are products that tend to be co-exported with the products that South Korea exports. Higher relatedness values ​​indicate greater knowledge, which predicts a greater probability of exporting that product in the future.

Diversification Frontier

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The Complexity-Relatedness diagram compares the risk vs strategic value of a country's potential export oppotunities. Relatedness is 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 greenhouse emissions.

Economic Complexity Ranking

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During the last 20 years South Korea's⁩ ⁨economy has become relatively more complex, moving from the ⁩⁨28th 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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