klee17_Chris JungNurPhoto via Getty Images_south korea Chris JungNurPhoto via Getty Images

South Korea and the US-China Rivalry

Despite creating new opportunities for some firms and sectors, the US-China rivalry – and the protectionist policies it has brought about – will prove bad for the world economy. The costs will be borne disproportionately by third parties, with South Korea as a case in point.

SEOUL – As 2023 comes to a close, relations between the United States and China are as fraught as ever. But what do tensions between the world’s leading superpowers mean for smaller actors?

The answer depends on the country, sector, and even firm. South Korean companies, for example, appear to be reaping significant benefits from US trade and technology restrictions on China, which have at least slowed – and possibly even reversed – the “China-zation” of manufacturing and global value chains. But this is not the whole story.

Start with the good. Since South Korea and China produce many of the same kinds of goods – such as consumer electronics, batteries, cars, and ships – the less American (and Western) market share China claims, the more is left for South Korea. Already, de facto Western sanctions on the Chinese tech giant Huawei have given a boost to the Korean firm Samsung’s wireless-systems sales. Similarly, if Chinese industry has less access to Western technology, it is more likely to turn to South Korean firms.