With 5.5% decline, country‘s overseas performance relatively good compared to other economies

Despite the fallout from the ongoing trade dispute and COVID-19 pandemic, South Korea retained its position as the world’s seventh-largest exporter in 2020, showed data released by the World Trade Organization on Sunday.

According to the WTO report on trade trends of major economies in 2020, Korea’s ranking in global trade was in seventh place last year, unchanged from the previous year.

Asia’s fourth largest economy accounted for 3.1 percent of world exports, following China (15.8 percent), the United States (8.8 percent), Germany (8.4 percent), the Netherlands (4.1 percent), Japan (3.9 percent) and Hong Kong (3.4 percent).

Korea came in ninth in total trade volume with a 3 percent share, unchanged from 2019, too.

According to the Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, the country recorded $512.8 billion in exports and $467.2 billion in imports in 2020. It obtained a $45.6 billion surplus in trade balance for 12 consecutive years.

Robust exports of semiconductors, computers, biopharmaceutical products and lithium-ion batteries contributed to the trade surplus. Chip exports grew 5.6 percent to $99.1 billion, marking the second biggest exports since 2018.

Computer exports surged 57.2 percent on-year, showing the highest growth since 1999.

Biopharma products exports surpassed $10 billion for the first time under the pandemic.

The world’s 10 biggest economies all showed declines in their exports last year, due to the COVID-19 impact, the WTO data showed.

The number of countries that exceeded $500 billion in exports fell from nine in 2019 to seven last year. Korea remained in the $500 billion club.

But in total trade volume, Korea failed to join the $1 trillion club last year.

In terms of annual export growth, China remained robust with a 3.7 percent growth last year, followed by Hong Kong with 2.6 percent and the Netherlands with a contraction of 4.8 percent.

Korea’s exports declined 5.5 percent last year, but the decline was modest compared to other major economies like Germany, Japan and the US, which posted export falls of 7.3 percent, 9.1 percent and 12.9 percent in order.

The trade dispute between the US and China and a stronger protectionism around the world is likely to continue to restrain recovery of global trade, the WTO report mentioned.