S. Korea drops to No. 2 spot in Chinese import market due to Taiwanese semiconductors

Posted on : 2022-03-16 16:25 KST Modified on : 2022-03-16 16:25 KST
Korea’s shares in China’s import market were down across the board, from components and materials to consumer goods
The logo for TSMC, the world’s largest semiconductor foundry, can be seen in front of the TSMC headquarters in Taiwan in this undated photo. (EPA/Yonhap News)
The logo for TSMC, the world’s largest semiconductor foundry, can be seen in front of the TSMC headquarters in Taiwan in this undated photo. (EPA/Yonhap News)

According to recently published statistics, South Korea’s share in China’s import market was 8.0% as of 2021, ranking second only after Taiwan (9.4%). Korea ranked first in market share from 2013 to 2019, but fell to second place in 2020.

The figures were released on Wednesday by the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) based on numbers from the Korea International Trade Association and China’s foreign trade statistics. Korea’s drop is mainly attributed to China’s increase in imports of Taiwanese semiconductors.

Compared to other countries’ market share in China’s import market, South Korea's decline was relatively fast. Korea’s share fell by 1 percentage point from 9.8% between 2012 and 2016 to 8.8% between 2017 and 2021. During the same period, the shares of six ASEAN countries — Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines — and Taiwan rose 2.5 points and 0.8 points, respectively.

The US figures, like Korea’s, fell by 1 point. Japan and Germany fell 0.5 and 0.3 points, respectively, while France rose by 0.1 points and the UK’s figures remained unchanged.

The FKI explains that “China's imports of semiconductors from Taiwan have increased since the US restricted exports of semiconductor technologies and equipment to China because they may be used by the Chinese military.”

In 2020, the US blacklisted SMIC, the largest semiconductor foundry in China, and effectively restricted the export of semiconductor technology and equipment by domestic companies to China.

Excluding memory semiconductors, South Korea’s largest export to China, Korea’s market share in China decreased by 2.0 points from 8.8% between 2012 and 2016 to 6.8% between 2017 and 2021. During the same period, the share of the six ASEAN countries increased by 2.8 points.

Moreover, Korea’s share in China’s components and materials import market decreased by 5.0 points from 16.9% in 2012-2016 to 11.9% in 2017-2021. The FKI explained that this was the result of China’s industrial and structural transformation and advancement policies, such as aiming for self-sufficiency in components and materials and the growth of domestic Chinese companies — all embodied by the "Made in China 2025” initiative.

South Korea's market share in China's top 10 imported consumer goods (as of 2018), including cars, medicines, cosmetics, and baby food, fell 1.2 points from 5.4% between 2012 and 2016 to 4.2% between 2017 and 2021.

During the same period, France's market share was able to increase by 2.3 points, but all other major countries (including the US, Japan, Germany, and the UK) and six ASEAN countries were unable to escape the decline in market share.

The rise in France’s market share stemmed from the fact that during that period, China’s imports of cosmetics from France rose from US$3.2 billion to US$12.07 billion, nearly fourfold.

By Kim Young-bae, senior staff writer

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

Related stories

Most viewed articles