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Service exports make highest contribution to economic growth since 2014: report

Visitors look at the products on display at an export consulting meeting at K-Global@Silicon Valley 2019 in Mountain View, California, in September 2019. (KOTRA)
Visitors look at the products on display at an export consulting meeting at K-Global@Silicon Valley 2019 in Mountain View, California, in September 2019. (KOTRA)


Service exports contributed more to South Korea’s economic growth than exports of goods for the first time since 2015, data showed Wednesday.

According to the latest report from the Korea International Trade Association, service exports accounted for 0.5 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product growth in 2019, the highest percentage since 2014. Korea’s GDP growth stood at 2 percent, and exports of goods accounted for 0.2 percent of that growth.

Service exports have improved in terms of quality jobs and value-added creation. The number of people employed directly or indirectly because of service exports reached 1.7 million in 2018.

They accounted for 32.1 percent of the total number of employees involved in exports, a 2.7 percentage point increase from 29.4 percent in 2015. The proportion of the employees providing goods exports dropped from 70.2 percent to 67.4 percent during the period.

Also, value added per service export increased by 0.105 won from 2010 to 2018 while the figure for goods exports rose by 0.053 won.

Despite the growth, “Korea’s service exports in 2019 amounted to $101.5 billion, less than a fifth of goods exports, which recorded $542.2 billion,” the report said. “The global competitiveness of our service sector is still below expectations.”

Shim Hye-jung, a senior researcher at KITA, said, “The expansion of the non-face-to-face economy caused by COVID-19 will bring new opportunities for our service sector to expand overseas.

“Various support is needed to expand exports of service companies such as providing more information, improving nontariff barriers, discovering convergence service models and supporting digital marketing.” 

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)



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