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Korea remains world's 7th-largest exporter despite drop in exports

By Mar 01, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Korea remains world's 7th-largest exporter despite drop in exports

South Korea has maintained its position as the world's seventh-largest exporter despite its exports dropping by over five percent last year, according to the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Feb. 28.

Korea exported $512.5 billion worth of goods last year, down by 5.5% from the previous year. The country was overtaken by Hong Kong, which jumped from being the ninth-largest exporter to the sixth-largest exporter as its exports rose by 2.6% last year. But Korea maintained its status, as France, which had ranked higher, saw its exports plunge by 14.5% last year and dropped to ninth place.

Meanwhile, Korea accounted for 3.1 percent in global exports, a modest rise from 2.9% in 2019. China held the title as the world's largest exporter, with its exports reaching around $2.6 trillion, up by 3.7% from the year-earlier period and almost fivefold Korea's volume. China has maintained the lead in exports since 2009.

The US came in second with $1.4 trillion worth of exports, followed by Germany ($1.38 trillion), the Netherlands ($674.5 billion), Japan ($641.4 billion) and Hong Kong ($548.8 billion).

Trailing behind Korea was Italy, with exports of goods amounting to $496.1 billion, France ($488.3 billion) and Belgium ($419.3 billion).

In terms of percentage change among the world's top 10 exporters, China and Hong Kong were in the lead as their exports increased amid the global pandemic by 3.7% and 2.6%, respectively. Korea came in fourth with minus 5.5 percent. 

Korea's exports began to suffer when the COVID-19 crisis spread worldwide in April 2020, with its exports plunging by 25.6% and posting negative growth between May and August.

In November 2020, Korea was able to rebound due to recovering demand for semiconductors and displays. The Ministry of Economy and Finance expects the country's exports to rise by 8.6% this year, backed by global trade recovery and the booming semiconductor industry.

Write to Min-jun Suh at

Danbee Lee edited this article.

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