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South Korea - Country Profile

South Korea (officially the Republic of Korea) is one of the few Asian countries categorized by the IMF as an advanced economy. In terms of GDP, South Korea is 11th richest nation in the world ($727 billion estimated for 2009). Compared to other advanced economies, South Korea is one of the most populated (48 millions inhabitants) and its unemployment rate is one of the lowest (3.7%), just behind Denmark and Norway. In 2007 the U.S. and South Korea signed a free trade agreement http://www.ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/korus-fta/final-text. It is the largest such agreement signed by the US in nearly 20 years, since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was ratified. However, the Obama Administration has requested renegotiation of some parts of the agreement. Since the US and Korea are close allies it is hoped that the agreement revisions will be agreed upon and the agreement will be sent to the U.S. Senate for ratification. The economic crisis and the appreciation of the won have not helped sustain South Korean exports over the past 18 months. For 2009, the IMF forecasts a GDP negative growth rate of -4%. However the Korean government maintains several export promotion programs that help overseas buyers identify quality Korean exports. Two government sponsored online marketplaces are BuyKorea http://www.buykorea.org/ and Gobizkorea http://www.gobizkorea.com/. And EC21.com http://www.ec21.com/ is a worldwide marketplace that is based in Korea and lists many Korean exports


Economic Statistics
Exports : $250.6 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Export
Commodities :
semiconductors, wireless telecommunications equipment, motor vehicles, computers, steel, ships, petrochemicals
Export
Partner
China 19.7%, US 17%, Japan 8.6%, Hong Kong 7.2% (2004)
Imports $214.2 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Import
Commodities :
machinery, electronics and electronic equipment, oil, steel, transport equipment, organic chemicals, plastics
Imports
Partners :
Japan 20.6%, China 13.2%, US 12.9%, Saudi Arabia 5.3% (2004)