South Korea's polyester fibre exports plunged 17.1 per cent in the first half of 2002 to $1.1 billion amid fierce competition from rival nations such as China, the Korea Textile Trade Association revealed on Thursday.

The association said exports to its five major export markets slumped nearly 20 per cent, with exports to Mexico and Argentina the worst hit with exports down 40.6 per cent and 91.7 per cent, respectively.

Officials said polyester fabrics exports to China fell 27.1 per cent in the first half, to Hong Kong 24.1 per cent and the United Arab Emirates 20.9 per cent.

But they added South Korea performed better in countries with import quotas with exports to Turkey up almost 40 per cent and the US three per cent, with exports to nations with import quotas up 25.4 per cent in the first six months of 2002.