South Korean economy is the 11th largest economy in the world and the third largest in Asia. South Korea’s economical growth in the last 60 years has been incredible; its GDP has grown from USD 100 in 1963 to over 20,000 in 2007. However, many challenges lie ahead for the South Korean economy, as some reforms are needed, in order to solve some problems and make South Korean market more liberalised. Also, the South Korean government is worried by the increasing diversion of corporate investments to China and other countries with lower wages. Below we look at trade and business in South Korea, and the opportunities.

In 1945, South Korean economy was mainly agricultural. In the following decades South Korea developed light industry, consumer products and heavy industry. South Korean economy was further boosted in 1988, thanks to the Summer Olympics and in 2002 because of the Football World Cup, hosted in South Korea and Japan. At the same time the service industry grew immensely.

At the beginning of the 21st century, South Korea is leader in the IT sector thanks to the aids received by its government. Leading firms in this sector are Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics.

As for exports, South Korea has established itself as a main provider of semiconductors in addition to exporting various IT products. For the future, the South Korean government is beginning to invest in the robotic industry.

The biggest part of South Korean GDP is made up by the service industry (about 55%), especially department stores, store chains and supermarkets. The second most important South Korean trade sector, for which this country is now famous all over the world, is the manufacturing sector (more than 40% of the country’s GDP). South Korean industries include: the textile and steel sectors; shipbuilding; car manufacturing and electronics (especially semiconductors, of which South Korea is the world’s largest producer). Lastly, agriculture contributes only to a small part of South Korean GDP (about 4%). The main crop is rice, followed by other cereals, like barley, wheat, corn, soybeans and by other products such as chili peppers, sweet potatoes, Chinese cabbage, apples and pears.

Import – South Korea imports mainly mineral fuels, electric and mechanical equipment, iron and steel. South Korea’s main trade partners for imports are China, Japan, the European Union and the USA.

Export – South Korea’s most important export partners are again China, Japan, the European Union and the USA, and the products that South Korea exports are: electric and electronic goods, machinery, vehicles, ship and boats. For Freight Rates to South Korea RSJ International of the UK organise freight to and from Korea, to locations around the world.