Japan slips to 5th-largest export market for South Korea

Japan slips to 5th-largest export market for South Korea

Japan was the fifth-largest export market for South Korea in 2015, slipping a notch from the previous year, according to trade data on Wednesday.

Exports to Tokyo also took up a record-low portion in Seoul’s outbound shipments on a weak yen.

At the same time, China emerged as South Korea’s No. 1 trading partner, said the Korea International Trade Association.

South Korea’s shipments to Japan reached $25.6 billion last year, accounting for just 4.9 percent of its overall exports, which is the lowest level so far. The shipments also mark a 20.5-percent drop from a year earlier.

In 1973, the portion of exports to Tokyo had hit a record high at 38.5 percent. In 1988, South Korea’s exports to Japan topped $10 billion.

“Prices of Korean goods in Japan are too expensive due to the yen’s weakness, causing this decline in exports,” said Moon Byung-ki, a researcher at the KITA.

The researcher also said foreign products made by China and other rivals expanded their presence in the Japanese market, crowding out Korean goods there.

The data showed that some 26 percent of South Korea’s exports, or goods worth $137 billion, went to China last year, maintaining its status as South Korea’s largest export destination.

South Korea logged a trade surplus of $46.9 billion with China last year, lower that the $55.2 billion in 2014, according to the data.

The U.S. came in second with a 13.3 percent share, or $69.8 billion worth of exports, followed by Hong Kong and Vietnam with 5.8 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively.

Semiconductors were South Korea’s No. 1 export item with $62.9 billion shipped overseas, followed by autos and ships and related parts worth $40.1 billion.

Oil was the most imported commodity, followed by semiconductors and natural gas.


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