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Economy, Foreign Trade

Major imports, electrical machinery, Korean War, computer components, rapid economic growth

Following the disruption of trade during the Korean War (1950-1953) and its aftermath, exports increased at the remarkable annual rate of 27.2 percent from 1965 to 1980 and increased sixfold from 1980 to 1995. The country, with few natural resources and a relatively small domestic market, employed its industrious and well-educated labor force to produce goods for export, thereby fueling its rapid economic growth. Major imports (much of which is used to make goods for export) include industrial machinery, petroleum and petroleum products, electrical equipment, iron and steel, transportation equipment, and chemical products. Leading exports are electrical machinery, fabrics, road vehicles, telecommunication and sound equipment, iron and steel, metal goods, computer components, and apparel. Imports in 2000 were valued at $160.5 billion and exports were worth $172.3 billion. Principal trading partners for exports were the United States, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Germany. Chief partners for imports were the United States, Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, and Australia. South Korea became a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 1996.



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