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Korea’s exports post record high for March 2018-04-02

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on April 1 that Korea’s exports posted a record high for March exports, surpassing USD 50 billion.
The value of overall outbound shipments in March rose 6.1 percent year-on-year to $51.6 billion, increasing for the 17th consecutive month. This growth is attributable to increased trade, strong performance of the information technology industry, and higher prices for oil and other major Korean export items.

Average daily exports advanced 8.3 percent to $2.2 billion from a year earlier, achieving growth for 16 straight months. Won-denominated exports inched up 0.2 percent to 55.3 trillion won despite strong won.

Imports increased 5.0 percent to $44.7 billion, rising 17 straight months for the first time in 72 months since February 2012. Trade surplus stood at $6.9 billion, remaining positive for 74 consecutive months.

Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Paik Ungyu stated that despite uncertainty in export conditions caused by growing protectionism, Korea’s exports in March surpassed $50 billion and increased for the 17th consecutive month, contributing greatly to the Korean economy.

A closer look at exports shows that seven out of Korea’s 13 major export items saw growth. They are semiconductors, computers and peripheral devices, petrochemicals, petroleum products, general machinery, steel, and textiles. Exports of the first two categories grew at double-digit rates.

Semiconductor exports soared 44.2 percent year-on-year to $10.8 billion, achieving the 18th consecutive growth. Semiconductors became the first single export item to top $10 billion. This increase is attributable to strong demand for memory semiconductors used in servers and expansion of new markets for the Internet of Things (IoT) and autonomous vehicles that use non-memory semiconductors.

Exports of general machinery advanced 6.1 percent to $4.7 billion, posting a record high on the back of continuous investment in facilities and infrastructure in some advanced economies.

Overseas shipments of petrochemicals and petroleum products inched up 0.8 percent to $4.1 billion and 0.3 percent to $3.0 billion, respectively, thanks to rising oil prices.

Steel exports increased 6.3 percent to $2.8 billion amid higher prices for international steel prices resulted from growing import restrictions between countries.

Textile exports expanded 1.5 percent to $1.2 billion due to the advent of peak season and the recovery of the global textile industry.

Computer and peripheral device exports jumped 62.5 percent from a year earlier to a record $1.1 billion, expanding for 12 straight months. In particular, the demand for high-volume, high-performance secondary storage devices was strengthened by the spread of smart technologies.

Meanwhile, exports of automobiles, automobile parts, displays, wireless communication devices, home appliances, and ships saw a decline.

Among outbound shipments of high-value, high-tech products that the Ministry keeps track of, multi-chip package (MCP) and solid-state device (SSD) exports soared 73.6 percent to a record high of $2.8 billion and 90.6 percent to an all-time high of $682 million, respectively. Organic light-emitting diode (OLED) exports also inched up 1.7 percent to $731 million.

The robust exports of MCPs were mainly due to continued expansion of semiconductor usage and their storage capacity. Those of SSD exports were largely because of Korean firms’ launch of new models as well as strong demand for SSDs used in corporate servers and personal computers. OLED exports also saw an increase thanks to the release of new smartphone models in March.

By region, exports to the European Union (EU), Japan, China, and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations saw year-on-year growth. In particular, those to the EU and China posted double-digit growths of 24.2 percent and 16.6 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, outbound shipments to the six other regions experienced contraction: the Commonwealth of Independent States (0.7 percent), the U.S. (1.0 percent), Vietnam (3.3 percent), Central and South America (7.8 percent), India (11.0 percent), and the Middle East (22.5 percent).

For imports, inbound shipments of semiconductor manufacturing equipments and liquefied natural gas surged due to investment in domestic production facilities and increased demand for heat and electricity. Those of gasoline cars and pharmaceuticals also grew on account of higher local demand.

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