Korea's global bestselling items unshaken
By Chung Joo-won, The Korea Herald/Asia News NetworkDespite Chinese manufacturers' aggressive push amid a global economic recession, most high-tech products at South Korean exporters have maintained their leadership status, industry sources and the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) said on Sunday.
January 15, 2013, 12:08 am TWN
Korea had a total of 45 exported items that enjoyed the world's largest market share for two consecutive years since 2010. Semiconductors, steel, shipbuilding, petrochemicals and auto parts are among this list.
Adding to this feat, in 2011, over a dozen export items — oysters, ginseng, fruit wine, chemicals, butadiene rubber, steel tubes, electrical signal device and some railroad vehicles — were newly dubbed as global No. 1 sellers, beating former 2010 bestsellers from European and North American countries, KITA said.
Chemicals, such as propene and polycarboxylic acid, also became global bestsellers in 2011, beating out Japan, the Netherlands and the United States. South Korea also surpassed the U.S. in exports of textiles and butadiene rubber.
KITA warned, however, that these 16 new global bestsellers are only about 10 percentage points apart from the second-bestsellers of other countries in global market share. The international trade association urged these sectors to fasten their belts to widen the gap with the runners-up, especially those in China.
“We must remember that the even in the sectors where Korean products have jumped to the top slot, the gap with the runner-up is 10 percentage points or less, meaning we could be pushed out of the position soon,” KITA officials said.
As if to echo such concerns, a total of 10 Korean items that had previously been global bestsellers in 2011 slid to second or third place, largely due to Chinese rivals.
In a growing number of sectors, Chinese manufacturers have been edging their Korean competitors out from the top spots in the global markets. Armed with cheaper prices and enormous variety — quality is compromised at times, but not too much since even in terms of technology, Chinese companies have been making significant progress — China has turned into a formidable contender for Korean manufacturers.
In 2011, China outsold South Korea in 12 items of 26 sectors in which Korea once had the No. 1 spot. In liquid crystal display, petrochemicals and the steel sector that South Korea had focused on for a long time, China became 2011's new leading exporter, according to KITA.
In 2011, China has the largest market share for the most items — 1,431 items — followed by Germany with 777 items, the U.S. with 589, Italy with 230 and Japan with 229.
South Korea's global exports amounted to about US$555.2 billion, the world's seventh-largest volume, but remained the world's 15th in the number of items with the largest global market share.