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Korea’s exports grow 4% to $44.9 billion in February 2018-03-02

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) announced on March 1 that Korea’s exports in February grew 4 percent year-on-year to USD 44.9 billion. This was despite 2.5 fewer working days in February this year compared with the same month in 2017 because of the Seollal holiday.
Exports of goods increased for 16 consecutive months for the first time in 74 months since December 2011. The average daily exports of goods rose 17.3 percent to $2.3 billion from a year earlier, achieving growth for 15 straight months. Won-denominated exports decreased 2 percent to 48.4 trillion won due to strong won.

Imports expanded 14.8 percent to $41.6 billion and trade surplus stood at $3.3 billion, remaining positive for 73 consecutive months.

Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Paik Ungyu appreciated the increase in exports for the 16th consecutive month despite challenging export conditions.

"The Trade Ministry will make every effort to maintain export growth by taking pre-emptive measures against downside risks for exports," Minister Paik said.
A closer look at exports shows that five out of Korea’s 13 major export items saw growth. They are semiconductors, computers and peripheral devices, petroleum products, ships, and petrochemicals. Exports of the first four categories expanded at double-digit rates.

Semiconductor exports soared 40.8 percent year-on-year to $9 billion, achieving the 17th consecutive growth and posting a record high for February. This growth was due to continued high prices for dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) chips and greater demand for NAND flash memory chips used in smartphones.

Computer and peripheral device exports jumped 29.5 percent to $858 million, also recording a record high for February, on the back of strong demand for high-volume, high-performance servers and data centers as well as the launch of new products, such as more advanced solid-state drives (SSDs).

Overseas shipments of petrochemicals and petroleum products expanded 6.3 percent to $4.1 billion and 15.8 percent to $3.4 billion, respectively. This is attributable to rising oil prices. In addition, exports of ships jumped 40.3 percent to $2.7 billion.

Meanwhile, exports of general machinery, automobiles, automobile parts, displays, steel, textiles, wireless communication devices, and home appliance declined.

Among outbound shipments of high-value, high-tech products that the Ministry keeps track of, multi-chip package (MCP) and SSD exports surged 74.2 percent to $2.2 billion and 65.2 percent to $599 million, respectively, while organic light-emitting diode (OLED) exports saw a year-on-year decrease of 8.4 percent to $563 million.

The double-digit growth of MCP exports was mainly due to continued expansion of semiconductor usage and their storage capacity while that of SSD exports was largely because of Korean firms’ launch of new models as well as high demand for high-volume, high-performance secondary storage devices. The decline in OLED exports, on the other hand, was caused by the fewer working days in February and lower demand for OLEDs resulted from the smartphone market maturity.

Exports of goods to most regions increased. In particular, those to Japan, the European Union, Australia, and Vietnam posted double-digit year-on-year growths of 21.6 percent, 17.8 percent, 16.5 percent, and 14.2 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, outbound shipments to Central and South America, the Middle East, and the United States saw year-on-year decreases of 4.9 percent, 9.6 percent, and 10.7 percent.

Imports rose 14.8 percent to $41.6 billion, recording the 16th consecutive growth for the first time in 72 months since February 2012. Inbound shipments of semiconductor manufacturing equipments and computer storage devices increased because of investment in production facilities and expansion of domestic production while those of crude oil and liquefied natural gas expanded due to the rise in oil and commodity prices.

*short version