South Korea is a strategic export market with an estimated population of 49million (July 2010). It is a newly industrialised country registering tremendous economic growth and has become a high-tech industrialized economy. In 2004, South Korea joined the trillion dollar club of world economies, and is currently among the world’s 20 largest economies achieving a 5.1% economic growth rate in 2007, 2.3% in 2008, 0.2% in 2009 and 6.1% in 2009.
South Korea and East Asia markets are prioritised by the Export Promotion Council (EPC) for immediate and medium term development with penetration strategies to include; market research; organised trade missions including buyer seller meetings and market development activities such as EXPOs, trade fairs and exhibitions. EXPO 2012 Yeosu offers an opportunity to test market and popularise Kenyan products including the Coffee Kenya Brand as speciality coffee, tea, livestock products, flowers & horticulture products among other products to the projected 8 million visitors set to visit EXPO 2012 event.
The total volume of trade between Kenya and South Korea grew from Kshs 3 billion (USD 37.7 million) in year 2000 to Kshs 11 billion (USD 137 million) indicating a 263% increase in 2010.
Over the same period Kenya exported a total Kshs1.7 billion (USD 21 million) while total imports totalled to Kshs 55.4 billion (USD 693 million), translating to an average export worth of Kshs 170 million (USD 2.13 million) against imports worth Kshs 5.5 billion (USD 69.3 million) annually for the 10 year period.
While the trend depicts percentage growth in Kenya’s exports the volume of trade is quite low as compared to imports from Korea. Despite the increase in the volume of Kenya’s exports to Korea, the trade balance is still in favour of Korea.
Key Exports to Korea include; tobacco, coffee, scrap metal, gemstones, pyrethrum, spices, fish, wood products, handicrafts, beer.
Key Imports from Korea include; iron & steel products, plastics, electrical machinery/apparatus, ICT equipment, chemicals, rubber products, pharmaceuticals, motor vehicle.