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First Contact

Doing Business in South Korea

ECONOMY The path to economic growth differs between the two countries. South Korea, although considered one of Asia’s tigers, is predominantly an agricultural country where two-fifths of the population work.

Manufactured goods, especially clothing and textiles, make up two thirds of the value of its exports. Other leading exports are wood veneers, foods, and raw materials. The chief imports are machinery, transportation equipment, petroleum, textiles, foods, chemicals, and wood. The United States and Japan are South Korea's main trading partners.
Chaebols, corporations that the South Korean government owns and operates, dominate the major transportation services, communications facilities, and electric power plants. Private companies dominate most other sectors of the economy.

South Korea’s gross domestic product (GDP) is currently at US$542.2 billion while GDP per head is US$11,700. Populated by 45.5 million persons, its GDP growth is 5.8% while inflation is at 4.5%.

The growth of the Korean economy is attributed to a combination of indigenous free market capitalism, extensive government promotion of export-oriented industry, and tight protectionist policies. Others insist though that the spirit of the Korean people has been a more important factor in its economic growth. An understanding of these cultural factors is important in doing business in Korea.





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