Publication Type

Collateral benefits? South Korean exports to the United States and the US-China trade war

Mary E. Lovely (PIIE), David Xu (PIIE) and Yinhan Zhang (Syracuse University)

Policy Briefs 21-18

This research is part of a 2020–21 series on the Korean economy. For additional research, look under "Recommended."


This Policy Brief assesses the extent to which the United States increased its imports from South Korea after the US imposition of tariffs on Chinese exports. Korea benefited from this shift in US imports, although the increase was relatively small in most sectors. The authors use highly disaggregated US import and tariff data to examine adjustments in US purchases of manufactured goods from its trade partners. Their analysis indicates that Korea made a small gain in the US market following the levying of US tariffs on Chinese exports, with Korea’s share of overall US manufacturing imports rising 0.9 percent and its share of US manufacturing imports subject to trade war tariffs rising 1.0 percent. Gains were spread across a variety of manufacturing sectors—such as wood products, textiles and apparel, and machinery—reflecting both the choices made by US officials regarding which Chinese exports to tax and the nature of preexisting trade relationships between South Korea and the United States.

Data Disclosure:

The data underlying this analysis can be downloaded here [zip].

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