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Exports by large firms grow at fastest pace in 2021 amid economic recovery

Containers are stacked up for outbound shipments at Gamman Pier in Busan on Jan. 21. According to provisional tallies by customs authorities, the country's exports came in at $34.4 billion during the first 20 days of the year, up 22 percent from a year before. (Yonhap)
Containers are stacked up for outbound shipments at Gamman Pier in Busan on Jan. 21. According to provisional tallies by customs authorities, the country's exports came in at $34.4 billion during the first 20 days of the year, up 22 percent from a year before. (Yonhap)

Exports by South Korean large companies rose at the fastest pace on record in 2021 as demand for chips and autos remained robust amid the global economic recovery, data showed Tuesday.

Overseas shipments by the country's 875 large exporters were valued at $415.8 billion in 2021, up 29.5 percent from the previous year, according to the data from Statistics Korea and the Korea Customs Service.

It marked the fastest on-year gain since 2015, when the agencies began compiling related data.

The agencies attributed the increase mainly to brisk shipments of semiconductors, petrochemical products and autos.

Exports by midsized firms also increased 22.3 percent on-year to $113.8 billion, and those by smaller companies rose 17 percent to $113.5 billion.

For all of 2021, the value of exports came to $643.1 billion, up 25.8 percent from the previous year.

Despite the increase in the volume of exports, the number of exporters declined for the second straight year in 2021, as small players went bust amid the protracted pandemic.

The number of exporting companies fell 2.5 percent on-year to 94,615, the data showed. It marked the largest fall since 2015, when comparable data was available.

The top 100 firms in terms of export value accounted for 65.2 percent of South Korea's total overseas shipments, up from 63.1 percent the previous year.

Exports by the 10 leading companies took up 35.5 percent of the total in 2021, slightly up from 35.3 percent a year earlier.

South Korea's imports were valued at $606 billion last year, up 31.7 percent from the previous year, the data showed.

Asia's fourth-largest economy expanded 4 percent, the fastest growth in 11 years, last year on the back of robust exports.

Export growth is expected to slow down this year due to heightened economic uncertainty, such as Russia's invasion of Ukraine and China's COVID-19 lockdowns. (Yonhap)

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