The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on July 1 that Korea’s exports recorded USD 51.2 billion in June, inching downward 0.1 percent year-on-year.
This was due to the high base effect from the large-scale exports seen a year earlier.
Average daily exports grew 6.9 percent year-on-year to $2.4 billion, achieving growth for two months in a row. Average daily exports excluding ships jumped 21.7 percent to $2.3 billion, growing for 20 straight months.
Imports increased 10.7 percent to $44.9 billion, rising for 20 straight months for the first time in 76 months since February 2012. The trade surplus stood at $6.3 billion in June, remaining positive for 77 consecutive months.
Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy Paik Ungyu said that Korea’s exports held steady in June, despite 1.5 fewer working days that month. As for exports in the second half of the year, he expected uncertainties due to countries that are taking protective measures and potential interest hikes.
A closer look at exports shows that seven out of Korea’s 13 major export items saw growth. They are semiconductors, petrochemicals, petroleum products, computers and peripheral devices, general machinery, auto parts, and textiles. Exports of the first four categories saw double-digit growth.
Semiconductor exports soared 39.0 percent year-on-year to $11.2 billion, beating their best record ever last month. Shipments increased on the back of stable prices of memory semiconductors, although growth slowed slightly due to fewer working days and because of the base effect.
Overseas shipments of petrochemicals and petroleum products jumped 17.6 percent to $4.2 billion and 72.1 percent to $4.2 billion, respectively, thanks to rising oil prices.
Computers and peripheral device exports jumped 48.5 percent to $1.1 billion from a year earlier, expanding for 15 straight months. This was attributable to growing demand for gaming laptops for video games and growing demand for high-volume, high-performance secondary storage devices.
Exports of general machinery grew 1.5 percent to $4.4 billion, growing for four months in a row. This was underpinned by robust demand in some big economies, including China and the U.S.
Car part exports increased 2.4 percent to $2.0 billion, as car sales returned to growth in China and the Middle East.
Textile exports expanded 1.2 percent to $1.3 billion on the back of stronger demand in the U.S., the European Union (EU), and Japan.
Meanwhile, exports of automobiles, steel, displays, wireless communication devices, home appliances, and ships all saw a decline.
Among outbound shipments of high-value, high-tech products of which the Ministry keeps track, solid-state device (SSD) and organic light-emitting diode (OLED) exports soared by 48.9 percent to $669 million and by 13.5 percent to $692 million, respectively. Robust exports of OLEDs were mainly due to growing demand for top-end TVs and rising sales of smartphone panels. Meanwhile, exports of multi-chip packages (MCPs) declined 10.5 percent to $1.8 billion.
By region, exports to China, the U.S., the EU, Japan, and India saw year-on-year growth. In particular, those to China, Japan, and India posted double-digit growth of 29.8 percent, 17.0 percent, and 11.1 percent, respectively. Exports to China recorded their second highest figure of $13.9 billion.
Meanwhile, outbound shipments to five other regions experienced a contraction: to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (by 1.3 percent), to Central and South America (7.4 percent), Vietnam (8.7 percent), the Middle East (10.4 percent), and to the Commonwealth of Independent States (28.0 percent).
As for imports, inbound shipments of crude oil expanded 68.2 percent to $7.3 billion on the back of rising oil prices. Computer storage imports increased 84.5 percent to meet demand from production facilities in Korea. Liquefied natural gas imports surged by 35.8 percent due to increased demand for electricity.
Exports between January and June grew 6.6 percent compared to the same period last year, to a record high of $298 billion. Imports during the first six months also rose 13.1 percent to $265 billion, the second highest on record. The total trade surplus over that same period stood at $33 billion.
These outstanding half-yearly figures were led by growth in the global economy and an increase in global trade, a strong tech industry, and rising oil prices.