We are turning more bullish on the size and growth pattern of China's &...
2021-02-24 2 ENGLISH REPORTS
The ROK is an ICT exporting giant. Korean companies have established complex supply chains across the Indo-Pacific region. The importance of ICT for Korea is reflected in the US$2.2bn the Moon Jae-in administration allocated for the Digital New Deal in 2020, Korea’s five-year plan to accelerate its leading role in the global ICT supply chain. According to Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MTIE) Korean ICT exports in September 2020 increased to a year-on-year growth of 11.9% to US$17.6bn.47 ICT exports to China grew 5.6% to US$8.2bn driven by strong sales of semiconductors and computers. Korea’s semiconductor industry is heavily dependent on the Chinese ICT market. Korean chip makers rely on exports to China and in particular to Chinese telecommunications champion Huawei. China’s share in Samsung Electronics, annual revenue is estimated to be close to 20%, while SK Hynix’s dependence may be even deeper – in 2018 nearly 50% of its exports were to China, amounting to 3.1trillion won (US$2.8bn). Despite this impressive figure, Korea is by no means self-sufficient in fulfilling its ICT demands.
China is a vital supplier to Korea’s ICT manufacturing base. Imports of ICT have been steadily rising too. In September 2020, imports also rose 9% to US$9.6bn with a trade balance showing a surplus of US$8.1bn. Of total imports, China enjoyed a significant share amounting to 31%. This figure has remained consistent throughout 2020, averaging a little over 30%. China’s total share of Korean ICT imports in 2019 was 42.5%. By comparison, the United States’ and the EU’s shares of Korea’s ICT imports have both remained at around 6%. Chinese ICT in Korea Chinese attention towards the ICT market in Korea surged in 2015 with Chinese web-portal giants Alibaba and Tencent competing for shares of Korean onlineshopping and payment-service markets.48 Alibaba sought to make inroads into the messaging and content sector while Tencent targeted digital retail services. Tencent gained a 10% stake in Kakao, Korea’s biggest messaging app. Meanwhile, Alibaba established a branch in Korea and invested US$90m in the content industry. China’s telecommunications giants have taken an avid interest in a broad spectrum of Korea’s ICT sector, including Korean start-ups, tapping into Korean technological, innovation incubator programmes. China Telecom has maintained a strong presence in Korea since mid-2012, aiming to encourage joint development as a conduit for market entry of both countries’ telecommunications industries and facilitating integration.
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