South Korea’s biohealth industry set a new milestone in outbound shipments with a 50 percent jump last year, led by robust demand for Covid-19 test kits and biosimilar products in Europe and the United States.
The country’s pharmaceutical exports totaled $14.1 billion in 2020, up by a whopping 54.4 percent from a year ago, whereas Korea’s export fell 5.4 percent on year to $512.8 billion, according to trade ministry data released early this month.
With the record high export figures, the biohealth sector joined the ranks of 10 mainstay export industry for the first time. The sector’s main growth driver was Covid-19 test kits whose demand went explosive worldwide amid surging cases of infections.
Exports of such test kits hovered at a mere $3,000 before January 2020 but the figure sharply increased to $200 million in April alone and $546 million as of end-November.
The growth of Korean biosimilars was also remarkable as their market share continued to rise in Europe and the United States, helping Korea’s entire pharma exports reach over $7.3 billion last year, up by 76.9 percent from a year ago. Exports of ventilators and other medical devices came to $4 billion, contributing to the sector’s growth as well.
By Park Yoon-gyun and Minu Kim
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