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Exports by conglomerates accounting for growingly less of nation's total

All Headlines 09:00 April 03, 2017

SEJONG, April 3 (Yonhap) -- Large conglomerates are accounting for less of the nation's exports, their percentage falling to the lowest mark in eight years in 2016, statistics showed Monday.

Exports by conglomerates in 2016 totaled US$308.5 billion, equal to 62.3 percent of South Korea's entire exports for the year, according to the Trade Statistics Service. The latest figure is the lowest since the 62 percent recorded in 2008, and it compares with 67.8 percent in 2012, after which the figures have fallen continuously.

By comparison, mid-market companies exported $87.6 billion's worth last year, or 17.7 percent of the nation's total. Small firms exported $98.2 billion's worth, or 19.8 percent.

Exports by conglomerates accounting for growingly less of nation's total - 1

Big businesses did worse in the exports market as the monetary value of their exports retreated. While the total exports retreated by 5.9 percent last year from the previous year, they fell back by 8.3 percent for conglomerates. The reduction was a smaller 5.7 percent for mid-market firms, while smaller companies managed to increase their exports by 1.7 percent.

In theory, the reduced portion for big companies could be a good sign that the country's trade is less concentrated in large conglomerates. But economists say the phenomenon has more to do with a slowdown in their exports than with such readjustments.

"Our 13 key products are mostly export items from conglomerates," professor Kim Kwang-seok of Hanyang University said. "Exports by the conglomerates appear to have slowed down as exports of the key products slowed down.

"Our industrial structure itself is slanted toward conglomerates. If they suffer, then the country's economy suffers," he said.

Statistics from the trade ministry showed that South Korea's exports of the main items, covering semiconductors, petroleum products, automobiles, ships and machines, fell by 7.7 percent last year from the year before. For petroleum products, flat display and home appliances, the exports fall was in double digits.

ldm@yna.co.kr
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