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S.Korea's bio-health industry exports log best-ever first half in 2021

Aug 25, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

South Korea's bio-health industry exports log best-ever first half in 2021

South Korea’s diagnostic kits, biosimilars and health-related bio-health industry exports have posted strong growth amid another global outbreak brought on by COVID-19 virus variants. Notably, increased exports to the EU have driven the domestic bio-health industry to post its best first-half ever this year. The industry's growth trend is expected to remain strong in the second half of the year.

Source: Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Korea International Trade Association, Korea Customs Service, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism

Bio-health industry annual exports

In 2020, the bio-health industry ranked in the country’s top 10 exports for the first time with its exports hitting an annual record-high figure of $14.1 billion, up by 54% from the previous year. In the first half of 2021, the bio-health industry exported around $7.7 billion, achieving its highest ever first-half export volume.

※ Items included in the bio-health industry are pharmaceuticals (raw materials, finished products) and medical devices (ultrasound diagnostic imaging device, dental implants, contact lens).


Major export items (Based on 2020)

Germany is the biggest importer of Korean pharmaceuticals, of which biopharmaceuticals are in the highest demand. As for medical devices, there was a huge increase in exports of diagnostic reagents, recognized for their superior technology.


Bio-health industry exports in 1H 2021

The bio-health industry recorded around $1.3 billion in exports during June 2021, up by 13.6% compared to the year-earlier period.


Pharmaceuticals exports

Pharmaceuticals account for the largest portion of bio-health industry exports. In 2020, there was a huge rise in exports of global pharmaceuticals due to the COVID-19 crisis, during which the growth rate of South Korea’s pharmaceuticals exports by far exceeded exports of global pharmaceuticals.


Bio-health industry

The bio-health industry offers services and products based on biotechnology, medical and pharmaceutical knowledge. It includes the manufacturing industry such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices as well as the medical and healthcare service industry such as digital healthcare services.

Unlike other manufacturing and service industries, the bio-health industry’s success is determined by costs and the period of research and development given its technology and capital-intensive nature. The global market for the bio-health industry has been growing rapidly due to the aging population and increasing health demands.

Major advanced countries have been preparing relevant regulations and increasing their investments into the bio-health industry to gain a lead in the market. Also, the South Korean government has been exploring ways to foster the bio-health sector, which has been identified as a new industry.

As of 2018, South Korea has the world’s No. 2 bio-pharmaceutical production capacity following the US. Korea's ultrasound diagnostic devices and dental implants currently rank as the world’s No. 1 and fifth in terms of exports.


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