The Korea Herald


Korea’s arms exports to Poland hit W1.5t in 2023

By Shim Woo-hyun

Published : Jan. 17, 2024 - 16:39

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A South Korean Army K2 tank fires during a live fire and maneuver demonstration. (Yonhap) A South Korean Army K2 tank fires during a live fire and maneuver demonstration. (Yonhap)

South Korea sent arms exports worth more than 1.5 trillion won to Poland last year, according to data compiled by a trade association, Wednesday.

Backed by the increase in arms exports, Poland has also become the source of South Korea’s fifth-biggest trade surplus after the United States, Vietnam, Hong Kong and India.

The Korea International Trade Association’s data said the combined exports to Poland reached $9 billion in 2023, up 14.8 percent from the previous year.

The growth is led mainly by exports of arms. In 2023, shipments of arms, including K9 self-propelled howitzers, K2 tanks and armored vehicles, soared some 57 percent on-year to $649 million.

Korea’s aircraft exports to Poland also reached $523 million last year. Korea Aerospace Industries also has exported 12 FA-50 fighter jets since July 2023, and it was the first year that Korea exported aircraft to Poland.

When combined, the exports of arms and aircraft reached 11.7 billion dollars, or 1.5 trillion won last year, up 184 percent from a year earlier.

In 2022, the Polish government inked a comprehensive export agreement with South Korean companies Hyundai Rotem, Hanwha Defense and KAI, to purchase 980 K2 tanks, 648 self-propelled K9 armored howitzers, 48 FA-50 fighter jets and 288 Chunmoo launchers.

Since the deal between the Polish government and domestic defense contractors worth $12.4 billion, South Korea’s arms exports to Poland are expected to grow further.

KAI, for instance, will deliver 36 FA-50PL fighter jets to Poland between 2025 and 2028.

However, the maximum legal cap on the loans provided by the Export-Import Bank of Korea on government-backed exports is getting in the way of Korea’s biggest-ever arms deal with Poland.

Previously, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk expressed concerns over the absence of a loan in the arms purchases. He expressed his hopes of expanding Poland's deals with Korea, but a lack of funds could jeopardize some deals, industry sources said.

Besides the arms exports, shipments of secondary battery materials accounted for the largest proportion of South Korea’s exports to Poland. In 2023, South Korea’s exports of secondary battery materials to Poland reached $2.2 billion, up 2.5 percent from a year ago.

In Poland, LG Energy Solution has a battery cell factory, where the company uses the secondary battery material to produce battery cells and export to other European countries.