The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on February 15 that exports of information and communication technology (ICT) products expanded 16.7 percent, the fastest pace in 44 months, to USD 13.8 billion in January from a year earlier on strong sales of semiconductors and displays.
Exports of ICT goods, which account for more than a third of Korea’s total exports, advanced for three consecutive month with a double-digit growth achieved in December and January.
Imports in this sector rose along 14.8 percent year-on-year to $7.8 billion in January. Surplus in trade of ICT goods came to $6.1 billion, making a major contribution to Korea’s total trade surplus of $3.2 billion, according to the Ministry’s preliminary data.
The fastest growth in ICT exports since May 2013 was driven by a record monthly sales of semiconductors, Korea’s best-selling exports that take up nearly 40 percent of the total ICT exports. Semiconductor exports soared 41.6 percent to $6.4 billion on stronger demand for use in mobile devices and servers and higher prices of dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) and NAND flash memory chips.
Display exports jumped 15.6 percent to $2.3 billion, marking the fastest growth since April 2013 as well as the third consecutive month of expansion. Outbound shipments of computers and peripheral equipment also rose by 7.9 percent to $632 million, continuing an upward trend for eight months. Their strong performances offset a 36.4-percent drop in mobile phone exports to $1.2 billion.
Exports to most regions, except the Middle East, expanded in January. Korea shipped ICT goods worth $7.6 billion to China, up 17.9 percent from a year earlier, while sales to the U.S. advanced 3.3 percent to $1.2 billion and those to Vietnam soared 31.5 percent to $1.3 billion. The European Union imported from Korea ICT products worth $893 million, an 18.4-percent on-year increase.
The trade balance with China stood at $4.5 billion while those with the U.S. and the EU came to $555 million and $344 million, respectively.
The 14.8-percent increase in imports of ICT goods was led by higher purchase of semiconductors, displays and mobile phones from abroad. By country, imports from China climbed up 7.8 percent to $3 billion while inbound shipments from Japan grew 11.6 percent to $786 million.