South Korea’s trade surplus shows K-beauty global power

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

South Korea trade surplus

Related tags: South korea, International trade

As South Korea’s cosmetics industry saw a trade surplus of over three trillion won (€2.3 bn) — how much exports exceed the cost of the country’s imports — K-beauty is now fiercely expanding into European markets.

Following its spread into the Chinese marketplace, the Korean wave is continuing to sweep across the US and into European regions including France, Italy and Spain. 

International trade surplus

Amid its global movement, on 27th June 2017, South Korea’s government agency, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, announced how the country’s cosmetics output hit 13.05 tn won (€10.1 bn) in 2016, an increase of 21.6% from 10.73 tn won (€8.3 bn) in 2015.

In 2016, for the first time, the rise in cosmetics production in South Korea went above 20%. Cosmetic exports in the nation are thought to be up based on the popularity of Korean beauty products. With a trade surplus of 3.6 tn won (€2.8 bn), this number represents a 112% lift from the 1.7 tn won (€1.3 bn) trade surplus in 2015.

Increased growth

The nation has pitched its new K-beauty product releases towards the prestige marketplace and innovative ingredient and application sphere as the market experiences high competition. South Korea has also welcomed negative list systems to improve safety and regulations around cosmetics manufacture and sales.  

In Asia-Pacific (APAC), there are a number of Chinese-speaking nations including Hong Kong, Taiwan and China, that remain the biggest importers of K-beauty cosmetics products. With France, Italy and Spain emerging as key new K-beauty favourites, exports to these countries have also seen significant growth.

Cosmetics exports to France grew by 138.4% in 2016 compared to 2015, with export values reaching 246.6% and 276% in Italy and Spain, respectively. The top 20 list of cosmetics exports featured both Spain and Italy. In 2016, total exports to advanced nations including the US, Italy and France reached 737.9 bn won (€571 mn).

“The K-Beauty has seen a rapid growth thanks mainly to the government’s effort to improve regulations and support programmes, including the expansion of functional cosmetics regions,”​ Sohn Mun-gi, Vice Minister, Food and Drug Safety, said to the press.

“We will continuously help domestic cosmetics products export smoothly to other countries and ease procedural regulations unrelated to safety through talks with regulators in the future so that the beauty hallyu (K-beauty wave) can spread all over the world,”​ Mun-gi added.

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