SEOUL, May 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korean companies need to find new growth engines in the online and health care industries as the new coronavirus pandemic has boosted demand in such sectors, a local trade association said Tuesday.
"As different countries are moving to bolster their public health infrastructure, South Korean exporters should also seek new opportunities," the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) said in a report, suggesting they should especially set their sights on the online and smart industries.
"By region, the robot delivery service is expected to get a boost in the United States in the post-pandemic era, with the demand for telemedicine services and construction equipment also expected to increase," KITA added.
KITA said the demand for fifth-generation (5G) network equipment will grow in China amid growing demand for home entertainment and education content, while "touchless" services, which use sensors to recognize users' motions, will become a new trend in Japan.
"As South Korean firms will face troubles in penetrating deeper into overseas markets due to uncertainties, it is important that they take customized approaches to different regions and target niche markets," the report added.
Despite being one of first countries to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control, South Korea has been suffering from a sharp decrease in its exports, as its major partners have yet to fully normalize economic activities.
In April, exports plunged 24.3 percent from a year earlier, due to the double whammy of the coronavirus pandemic and falling oil prices, and suffered the first monthly trade deficit since 2012.
Customs data showed outbound shipments fell 20 percent over the first 20 days of May as well.
Exports still enjoyed growth in a handful of areas related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, South Korea's shipments of biohealth products, including coronavirus test kits, rose 29 percent on-year in April.
Its shipments of processed foodstuffs and computers also increased 46 percent and 99 percent, respectively, over the period, as a rising number of people stayed home due to the spread of the virus.