Annual exports of South Korean health care and cosmetics goods surpassed the $10 billion mark for the first time in 2016, helped by strong overseas demand, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said Thursday.
Outbound shipments of locally produced drugs, medical equipment and cosmetics reached $10.22 billion last year, up 19.1 percent from the previous year, the ministry said.
The ministry said South Korea witnessed an average annual export growth of 19.4 percent between 2012 and 2016.
Exports of cosmetics products surged 43.1 percent on-year, according to the latest data, followed by medical equipment that grew 7.7 percent, with drugs gaining 5.7 percent.
Experts attributed the increase to the huge popularity of South Korean products mostly related to "hallyu," or K-pop and K-dramas in China.
China is the biggest buyer of South Korean beauty products, with the country accounting for 33 percent of overseas sales. The numbers come despite Beijing's opposition to South Korea's decision to deploy an advanced US missile defense system on its soil.
South Korea announced that it would deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system by the end of this year to counter growing missile threats from North Korea.
The ministry attributed the jump of medicine exports to increased outbound shipments of local biosimilars to European countries.
Biosimilars are officially approved copycat medicines developed after patents for the original biopharmaceuticals expire.
South Korean biopharmaceutical firm Celltrion Inc. began selling its biosimilar drug Truxima in Germany and in Britain following approval from European regulators.
The United States was the biggest buyer of South Korean-made medical equipment, followed by China and Germany, the ministry said. (Yonhap)