Once again our anticipated room for the in-person session on Thursday was not available. Every other potential room in Seoul also appears to be booked. We therefore have to announce that Thursday’s session will only be held online. Everyone who signed up for the in-person event will receive the online code and invitiation on Wednesday afternoon about 5pm. We apologize for not being able to secure adequate offline accommodation, but hope you will still join us for the online event.
Despite the title this session will give due attention to all Korea’s major exports. However it then looks at the potential for further exports of nuclear and armaments in detail, and also the theme earlier developed in one of our sessions that Korea is a (relatively) safe haven for investment in an era of decoupling or derisking.
After the usual quick round up on the overall economy and the role of exports in the economy, we turn to exports in more detail.
Of the traditional core exports chips, ships and petrochemicals are down compared with a year ago, chips down 21% in August, petroleum products 35%. But the petrochemical products and chips were at a higher price (in the case of petrochemicals and refined fuel much higher), so we need to look at the longer term picture than a single year. Some exports are closely tied to imports so we need to look at the product business cycle as well. Out of the “traditional” exports only vehicles are doing exceptionally well up 28% in August with EVs constituting 23% of total vehicle exports. OLED screens also up by 4% despite lower production of screens in Korea.
We will turn to new exports including EVs up 65%, battery components and batteries and then the nuclear industry (which is in part a services story rather than products) and the prospects for Korea’s armament industries with the recent International Defense Industry Exhibition (MSPO), fair in Poland where Hyundai Rotem, Hanwha, KIA, KAI and LIG were well represented along with 25 other companies.
The safe haven thesis develops the idea that Korea’s pivotal role developed by MOFA in their Indo-Pacific Strategy of December 2022 could, with care, make Korea a safe haven for investment from both the US and China. While it is already happening in the battery components industry there is great interest in the US of investing the other way.
It is ironic that both North and South Korea could be major suppliers of weaponry in the near future, sanctions notwithstanding in the North and the rule of not selling to combatants in the South. Join us for a good discussion on all these issues.