The lobby organization Initiative for Social Market Economy (INSM) published nine facts about the EU on their website. One of them is “One third of EU exports to South Korea are made in Germany”, which seemed to be true.
The INSM is financed by employers’ associations and, according to its own statement, acts independently of political parties. As a source of the fact, the INSM gives the Statistical Office of the European Union „Eurostat“, which seems very trustworthy at first impression. According to Eurostat the total value of EU exports to South Korea in 2019 was 47.4 billion euros. Among them, Germany was one oft he three largest exporters with 18,1 billion Euros. This corresponds to one third of the total and would verify the fact. But do other sources also confirm the claim and why are the German export values that high?
The free trade agreement
The German figures of the Federal Statistical Office are similar to Eurostat. According to them, Germany exported goods worth 17.2 billion euros to Korea in 2019. The number is slightly smaller but still accounts for more than one third of the total exports. The head of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom in Korea Dr. Christian Taaks describes these figures as record values that even astonish experts in view of the Corona Pandemic. According to him, one of the reasons for this development is the free trade agreement between the EU and South Korea, which was concluded in 2011.
Taaks says, that Germany is benefiting so well from the agreement, because many German companies are based in Korea and they appreciate each other as reliable business partners. Especially during the pandemic, the reputation of German products in Korea has risen considerably. The German automotive industry has experienced an absolute boom in this regard, especially the luxury brands. Many people in Korea bought cars and other luxury goods for the money that would otherwise be spent on travel for example. More information about the free trade agreement and its pro and cons, can be found in the related blog post.
Don’t forget the service exports
On the pages of the German professional medium Reguvis GmbH it can be read that the exports from Germany to South Korea include mainly automotive and machine parts as well as chemical products. These three product groups achieved a share of around 60 percent of total exports. But to verify the claim, the services must also be considered.
Services means for example electrical and communications engineering. The German federal support organization for trade and industry “German Trade & Invest” (GTAI) has researched the relation of the German goods and services and examined the data separately. Katharina Viklenko, economic expert of GTAI, provides the figures and confirms the claim as well: “In 2019, exports from Germany included the services accounted for about 36 percent, so more than a third of EU exports to South Korea. Germany’s share tends to be slightly higher for goods (40.5 percent) than for services (21 percent).“ The exact figures also differ slightly from the other sources. The GTAI does not yet have data for service exports in 2020. However, Viklenko expects the share will remain similar.
In short, it’s true that one third of EU exports to South Korea are made in Germany. Among others this was verified by Eurostat regarding the year 2019 and the statistic by the Federal Statistical Office of Germany. Even if the sources give slightly different figures, all of them testify that the claim is true.
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