The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) announced on February 1 that Korea’s exports in January expanded 22.2 percent year-on-year to USD 49.2 billion, posting an all-time January record high.
Exports of goods increased for 15 consecutive months, achieving a double-digit growth in four months since September 2017. The average daily exports of goods rose 9.5 percent to $2.1 billion from a year earlier. Won-denominated exports increased 10 percent to 52.5 trillion won.
Export prices increased for 14 consecutive months, and export volume for 3 consecutive months.
Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Paik Ungyu highlighted the continuing upward export trend in the new year.
“The Trade Ministry will make utmost efforts to implement policy measures that can maintain the strong exports,” Minister Paik said.
He also added that the Ministry will actively diversify export markets by expanding innovative growth based on five new industries, including electric and self-driving vehicles, Internet of Things (IoT) home appliances, new energies, and biohealth.
A closer look at exports shows that nine out of Korea’s 13 major export items saw double-digit growths.
Semiconductor exports soared 53.4 percent year-on-year to $9.7 billion due to a higher demand for servers, smartphones, and solid state drives (SSDs).
Computer and peripheral device exports jumped 38.6 percent to $888 million on the back of strong demand for personal computers and high-volume servers.
General machinery exports expanded 27.8 percent to $4.5 billion because of an increase in facility and infrastructure investments while petrochemical exports increased 18.4 percent to $4.2 billion due to a rise in export prices caused by the oil price surge.
The above four product categories all reached the highest January level.
In particular, for high-tech products, exports of multi-chip packages (MCPs) increased 112.3 percent year-on-year to $2.5 billion; those of organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) 17.2 percent to $698 million; and those of solid state drives (SSDs) 79.3 percent to $597 million.
In addition, outbound shipments of pharmaceuticals and cosmetics jumped 51.1 percent to $245 million and 55.4 percent to $468 million from a year earlier, respectively. Meanwhile, those of auto parts, displays, wireless communication devices, and home appliances declined.
By region, exports to all major markets grew. Exports to China, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEANS), and India all posted January’s record highs.
Especially, exports to China rose 24.5 percent to $13.4 billion and those to ASEAN surged 37.2 percent to $8.3 billion.
Imports surged 20.9 percent year-on-year to $45.5 billion, recording the 15th consecutive month of growth. Inbound shipments of semiconductor manufacturing machines and computer memory devices expanded due to increased domestic production and production facility investment, while those of crude oil and zinc ore grew because of a rise in oil and commodity prices.
Trade surplus stood at $3.7 billion, remaining positive for 72 consecutive months.