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Biomedicines, batteries and OLEDs key export drivers

Biomedicines, batteries and OLED panels are rising as key drivers of exports in South Korea, which Seoul officials see as a hopeful sign of the economy becoming more resilient and future-oriented.

According to the Ministry of Trade, Infrastructure and Energy on Sunday, the first half of 2021 reinforced a continuing trend of seven product categories, identified by the government as new growth items, making bigger contributions to the country’s total exports.

The seven are bio and health products, secondary batteries, agricultural products, cosmetics, systems-on-chip, electric vehicles and organic light-emitting diodes.

The total value of overseas shipments of these items was tallied at $47.7 billion during the January-June period, up 29.9 percent from a year earlier.

Compared to the first half of 2016, when the figure stood at $23.9 billion, it nearly doubled.

The share that the six items take up in total exports has also increased over the years. It reached 15.8 percent in the first half of this year, from 9.9 percent five years ago.

By category, biomedicines, battery cells, cosmetics and agricultural products set the best first-half records this year.

Over $7.6 billion in biomedicines were shipped during the six months, up 27.7 percent on-year, boosted by strong demand for COVID-19 diagnostic kits and biosimilar drugs from local pharmaceuticals.

Batteries’ shipments registered a 24.1 percent gain, driven by exponential growth in US sales. The US-bound shipment soared by a whopping 238.5 percent.

Outbound shipments of systems-on-chip, electric vehicles and OLED products reached their highest levels in five years, the data showed.

The Trade Ministry noted that the rise of new export items came while traditional items cemented their global market positions. “This shows our export portfolio is evolving in line with the future directions of the global markets,” a ministry official explained.

Korea’s economy has for decades relied heavily on the overseas sale of chips, cars and electric gadgets to grow.

The country’s total exports during the six-month period marked $303.24 billion, which was the best first-half performance ever recorded. The top five contributors were chips, general machinery, ships and cars, including electric vehicles, and steel products. The Korea Herald

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