Aircrafts of Korean Air Lines and Asiana Airlines line up at Incheon International Airport (Yonhap)
South Korea's airfreight exports jumped to account for 36 percent of the country's overall exports last year, industry data showed Tuesday, on higher demand for chips and biohealth products.
Of the country's combined exports of $512.5 billion in 2020, air transport accounted for $183 billion, according to the data compiled by the Korea International Trade Association (KITA).
While maritime transport still accounted for the majority of $325.8 billion, the portion of air cargo rose 5.4 percentage points on-year, while maritime shipping edged down 5.6 percentage points.
The association said the increase in the volume of air cargo came amid the growing global demand for high-value products, such as memory chips, solid state drives, biohealth goods, and organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays.
In 2020, South Korea's exports of chips jumped 5.6 percent to reach $99.1 billion, and those of biohealth products, including COVID-19 test kits, soared 54.4 percent to reach $14 billion.
In terms of maritime shipping, KITA said export volume lost ground due to the high freight costs coupled with shortages of containers, as the global economy slowly recovered from the pandemic, which led to strong demand for shipping services.
The dull performance of heavier products, such as steel and automobiles, also led to the weaker demand for maritime shipping services.
Outbound shipments of automobiles shed 13.1 percent on-year in 2020 at $47.9 billion, and those of steel also decreased 14.4 percent to $26.5 billion.
"To lend a hand to South Korean exporters, the country needs to curb the excessive hike in shipping costs and supply more containers," KITA said in its report. (Yonhap)