China beats Korea with its top-selling export items

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China beats Korea with its top-selling export items

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Korea remained steady in the number of its exports that have the largest market share globally from 2013 through 2015.

But China’s top products kept growing in that period and now account for almost one third of export categories, a recent report from the Institute for International Trade showed.

Korea had 68 export items that were No. 1 in the world in terms of market share in 2015, up by just one from 2014 and the same number as in 2013, according to the report from the institute, a think tank run by the Korea International Trade Association, based on UN Commodity Trade Statistics.

Korea ranked 14th among exporters for three consecutive years.

By type, chemical products captured the largest share (22 products) in 2015, followed by steel products (12), textiles (9), and non-electronic machines (7).

Twenty six items - from chemical goods to memory chips, automotive components and tankers - maintained the number one market share globally for five consecutive years through 2015. Eighteen new items including edible seaweed, photographic film and plastic products took up the No. 1 position in 2015, whereas 17 items such as storage batteries and propylene lost their top positions to other exporting countries.

China had 1,752 top products in 2015, increasing 12.3 percent from two years earlier, and its share of No. 1 export goods rose from 27.7 percent in 2013 to 31.6 percent in 2015.

Notably, China was the No. 2 producer of 17 out of Korea’s 68 No. 1 items - signifying that Korea could lose some of its top spots to China in coming years.

After China, Germany had the second largest number of No. 1 exports at 638 in 2015 and the United States had the third, with 607. Italy came in fourth with 201 and Japan fifth with 175.

Korea competed in the chemical sector with the United States and against Germany and Japan in chemicals and steel products.

“Innovating exports to distinguish them from other export powerhouses and to raise their value is critical for Korea to beef up its No. 1 items,” said Kim Gun-woo, a researcher at the Institute for International Trade.

He noted that the Korean government and trade-related institutes should cope preemptively with external variants such as trade conflict between the United States and China, and Brexit in order for Korean exporters to minimize damage from ever-spreading uncertainties.

A silver lining was seen in the fact that Korea saw the number of its export items ranking in the world’s top 10 positions grow incrementally from 1,254 to 1,414 between 2011 and 2015, The number of its export items taking lesser ranks - top two to top five market shares in the world - also rose from 494 in 2013 to 560 in 2015.

The report said the record indicates Korea has been expanding its base in the global market.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]

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