A recent survey conducted by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) revealed that despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, one in five Korean exporters experienced an increase in their export volume over the past three years. The survey, which included responses from 1,222 manufacturers of export products nationwide, found that 20.2 percent of the companies saw their exports grow when comparing the first half of this year to pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
Active overseas sales activities were identified as the primary factor contributing to this export growth, according to 34.0 percent of the companies surveyed. The pandemic reshaped the export market, prompting businesses to engage in proactive marketing efforts to reach buyers who were unfamiliar with Korean products. For instance, a small Korean cosmetics company achieved a sales increase of over 40 percent by promoting its eco-friendly products in the US market and expanding sales activities targeting Southeast Asia through overseas influencers.
However, not all companies experienced growth in export volumes. In fact, 36.3 percent of the companies reported a decrease in exports during the same period. The main reasons cited for the decline included reduced order volumes from existing customers (64.1 percent) and losing price wars to competitors (24.0 percent). Policies and regulations in export markets were also identified as a contributing factor by 14.4 percent of the companies surveyed. Notably, exports to China experienced the largest drop compared to the pre-COVID-19 period, with 39.4 percent of companies reporting a decrease. On the other hand, 29.0 percent of companies reported an increase in exports to the United States, making it the top country for increased imports from Korea.