South Korea sees global export share ranking in key tech industries fall to 5th from 2nd place

Jessica Tsai; Willis Ke, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Credit: AFP

In the world's six major advanced industries, South Korea witnessed a substantial decline in its export share from 8.4% in 2018 to 6.5% in 2022, marking a significant 25% decrease over four years. This decline resulted in a drop in global ranking from second to fifth place. In contrast, Taiwan increased its share from 5.9% to 8.1% during the same period, securing the third position.

According to South Korean media outlets Korea Economic Daily and Dong-A Ilbo, the Korea Employers Federation recently released a comprehensive report titled "Analysis and Insights on the Export Market Share of Six Major Advanced Industries in Six Countries." The report delved into the export trends of cutting-edge industries, including semiconductors, displays, rechargeable batteries, future vehicles, biotechnologies, and robots. It scrutinized the changes in export values of these industries in South Korea, the US, Japan, China, Germany, and Taiwan from 2018 to 2022.

In the global export ranking of the six major advanced industries in 2022, China claimed the top spot with a 14.1% share of the overall export value, followed by Germany at 8.3%, Taiwan at 8.1%, the US at 7.6%, South Korea at 6.5%, and Japan at 3.2%. The decline in South Korea's export share raised concerns as it represented a 25.5% decrease from 2018, causing a drop in its global ranking from second to fifth place.

Examining South Korea's export status by product, its share of the semiconductor industry's export value plunged from 13% in 2018 to 9.4% in 2022. Analysts attributed this decline to a stagnation in the memory market, which is a strong suit of the South Korean chip industry, compared to TSMC's wafer fabrication business becoming the driving force of semiconductor growth.

Similarly, South Korea's export value share of rechargeable batteries fell significantly from 12.7% in 2018 to 7.6% in 2022. The country's export shares for robots and future cars from 2018 to 2022 also slipped from 9.7% to 5.9% and 7.2% to 7%, respectively.

However, South Korea's export shares in displays and biotechnology defied the declining trend, growing from 9.9% to 10.3% and 0.7% to 0.8%, respectively, over the four years.

Analysts noted that South Korea faces challenges across various industries and risks losing market shares to China. Notably, Chinese companies have taken over the LCD market in the display sector, and they are rapidly catching up in the OLED domain. China's dominance in global automobile exports and secondary battery field and the cost-competitive nature of Chinese-made service robots pose additional threats to South Korea's market position.

In response to these challenges, industry insiders in South Korea are urging the government to relax restrictions and implement measures such as expanding the scale of research and development investments and providing tax incentives. These actions are necessary to navigate the intensifying global competition for technological dominance among countries.