Could Imports be Beneficial for Economic Growth? Some Evidence from Republic of Korea

Publication | October 2007

This study uses data from the Republic of Korea, a classic export-driven economic growth example in East Asia, to empirically investigate the relationship between imports and productivity growth.

The Republic of Korea is widely seen as a classical example of East Asia's export-driven economic growth. The focus in the literature on exports in the economy's growth has led to an almost complete neglect of the role of imports. This study investigates the relationship between exports, imports, and economic growth using quarterly data from 1980 to 2003. Results indicate that imports have a significant positive effect on productivity growth but exports do not. Furthermore, the evidence reveals that the productivity-enhancing impact of imports is due to competitive pressures arising from consumer good imports and technological transfers embodied in capital good imports from developed countries. Most of the study's results still hold using gross domestic product growth rather than productivity growth as the measure of economic growth. The evidence implies that under certain circumstances, import liberalization can make a positive and significant contribution to growth and development.


  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Empirical Analysis and Results
  • Concluding Remarks
  • Appendix
  • References

Additional Details

  • Economics
  • Industry and trade
  • Korea, Republic of
  • 100607
  • 1655-5252 (Print)

Published Version

Kim, Sangho, Hyunjoon Lim, and Donghyun Park. 2009. "Imports, Exports and Total Factor Productivity in Korea." Applied Economics 41 (14): 1819–34.

Note: ADB recognizes "Korea" as the Republic of Korea.

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