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S. Korea's beauty exports hit all-time high of $2.3b in Q1

April 3, 2024 - 17:45 By Shim Woo-hyun
Customers at a cosmetics store in a department store located in Seoul (Yonhap)

South Korea’s exports of cosmetics jumped around 22 percent on-year to hit an all-time high in the first quarter of this year, amid the growing international popularity of Korean culture, government data showed Tuesday.

According to the Korea Customs Service, the country’s exports of cosmetic products came to $2.3 billion in the January-March period, up 21.7 percent on-year from the same three-month period last year. The export figure is the highest ever for the first quarter.

South Korea’s cosmetics exports had ups and downs in the previous years. In 2021, the country’s cosmetics exports hit an all-time high of $9.22 billion but fell to $7.98 billion in 2022 due to falling demand in China. Last year, cosmetic exports rebounded to $8.49 billion and have been continuing its upward trend this year.

The customs agency said the increasing popularity of Korean culture around the world has helped the country’s beauty products increase their sales overseas.

According to the customs agency’s data, the number of countries where South Korea exports its cosmetics products has also reached an all-time high of 175 in the first quarter. Korea’s cosmetic exports to 110 countries also set new records, the data added.

By region, China was still the largest export destination with $610 million, followed by the United States with $380 million, Japan with $240 million, and Vietnam with $150 million.

However, the data also noted that cosmetic exports to China have been declining over the past years. During the first three months of 2021, cosmetic exports to China accounted for 53 percent of the total, but the figure went down to 32.7 percent in the same period in 2022 and to 26.6 percent this year.

By product, exports of skincare products increased 25.8 percent on-year to surpass $1 billion, supporting the increase of South Korea’s cosmetic exports in the first quarter of this year. Exports of skincare products accounted for 44.4 percent of total cosmetic exports as well. Outbound shipments of color cosmetics such as lipsticks and nail polish amounted to $360 million, taking up 15.5 percent of the total.