2021 was off to a strong start for Korean exports – a metric watched closely by Koreans as well as international observers who view it as an indicator for the health of the world economy as a whole. If the Korean trade performance is indeed pointing in the right direction, recovery might be on the horizon after the coronavirus pandemic made economic motors sputter across the globe.
Exports from South Korea in January and February were up by more than ten percent compared to the same period last year, before the COVID-19 crisis began. At the time, Korean exports had long been struggling – and continued to do so for a good part of 2020. But demand was finally looking up by Q4.
Some of the mainstays of the Korean economy recorded above-average increases in export volume. Electrical equipment, which made up 30 percent of year-to-date exports, rose by more than 16 percent, while optical equipment and vehicles posted even bigger gains.
Export hit K-Beauty grew by 40 percent, while a crisis-related category – pharmaceutical products – almost doubled its export volume.