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South Korea Table of Contents

South Korea


The chemical industry began full production in the 1970s. Although dependent on imports of raw materials and certain hightechnology commodities, the chemical industry supplied many of the intermediate inputs for textile, plastic, synthetic rubber, rubber shoe, and paint factories, and had made South Korea virtually self-sufficient in fertilizers. The chemical fertilizer industry, a large part of the chemical industry, met most of South Korea's domestic consumption demands.

In 1987 chemical and pharmaceutical exports increased by 27 percent over the previous year, but accounted for only 2.8 percent of total exports; imports in that category comprised 11.2 percent of total imports. The chemical industry was expected to expand in the early 1990s, with new capacity coming online and Seoul committed to spending money for research and development and constructing new production facilities. Pharmaceuticals, agricultural chemicals, dyes, pigments, paint, perfumes, surface active agents (surfactants) including synthetic detergents, and catalysts were targeted as major areas for investment.

In the late 1980s, petrochemical production facilities included twenty-five companies, thirty-six plants, two naphtha crackers, and three aromatics extraction plants, with an aggregate total production capacity of 505,000 tons of ethylene per annum. There were two large petrochemical complexes, one in Ulsan, the other in Yosu. South Korea was an important producer of chemical fertilizers in the late 1970s (671,000 nutrient tons exported in 1980), but both exports and production declined in the 1980s.

Data as of June 1990