The Korea Herald


KITA chief sees exports rise 6 percent in 2021, driven by bio, chips

By Jo He-rim

Published : Dec. 2, 2020 - 17:51

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KITA Chairman Kim Young-ju speaks at a press conference in Seoul on Wednesday. (Korea International Trade Association) KITA Chairman Kim Young-ju speaks at a press conference in Seoul on Wednesday. (Korea International Trade Association)

South Korea’s exports will recover next year to invigorate economic growth, which has been slowed in 2020 by the COVID-19 pandemic, a trade association chief said Wednesday.

Speaking at a press conference, Korea International Trade Association Chairman Kim Young-ju said the organization foresaw export growth of more than 6 percent, and that the country’s trade volume will recover back above the $1 trillion mark next year.

“OECD predicted Korea’s economy to grow 2.8 percent, so the 6 percent growth means that exports will continue to lead next year’s economic growth,” Kim said.

Export growth will be driven by eco-friendly products, bio health and digital chips, he said.

Automobiles, petrochemicals, steel and machinery -- industries that lost strength due to the pandemic -- will also recover next year, the chief added.

According to KITA’s report, outbound shipments next year are estimated to be valued at $538.2 billion, rising from this year’s estimate of $507 billion.

The estimate for imports is for growth of 5.4 percent to $490 billion, and the trade surplus is forecast to be $48.1 billion, KITA said.

Kim, however, said the nation’s trade environment will continue to be tough, as US President-elect Joe Biden is expected to maintain protectionist policies.

“The Biden administration values environment and labor. It has strong willingness to adopt carbon border adjustments. Efforts will definitely be needed for Korean companies to adapt to the changed situations for good performance,” Kim added.

A carbon border adjustment is a tax on imported goods, such as steel or cement, to account for carbon emissions during production.

Over the government’s effort to support trade this year, Kim said ministries have worked hard on digitalization of the trade process, especially to support small and medium businesses seeking to tap into overseas markets.

“Still there have been limits, and the biggest difficulty for entrepreneurs when asked was restrictions on movement between countries (to contain the pandemic),” Kim said.

“There have been many requests for exemptions on the 14-day quarantine measures, and it is regretful. But at the same time, it is a difficult issue because the infection cases would increase when (regulations) would loosen.”

By Jo He-rim (