- Korea’s March exports drop 8.2 percent to $47.1 billion 2019-04-01
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on April 1 that Korea’s exports in March decreased 8.2 percent from a year earlier to USD 47.1 billion. Imports fell 6.7 percent to $41.9 billion.
The trade balance stood at a surplus of $5.2 billion, remaining positive for 86 straight months. The average daily exports recorded $2.1 billion.
The decline in last month’s exports was mainly due to combined effects of external risks and cyclical factors. The former includes the U.S.-China trade dispute, a slowing global economy, and growing protectionism. An example of the latter is falling semiconductor prices. Fewer working days compared to last year’s March also contributed to the decrease.
Meanwhile, the decreasing rate was reduced to a single-digit figure of 8.2 percent from February’s 11.4 percent. Exports are expected to continuously improve in April.
While the export volume in March inched down 0.9 percent, the first quarter’s export volume edged up 1.5 percent compared to the same period last year.
Among Korea’s 20 major export items, outbound shipments of ships, plastic products, biotechnology products, and secondary batteries experienced increases. Those of the remaining 16 items saw decreases. They are semiconductors, general machinery, automobiles, petrochemicals, petroleum products, steels, auto parts, displays, textiles, wireless communication devices, agricultural products and fisheries, fine chemical materials, computers, home appliances, cosmetics, and robots.
Semiconductor exports slowed down 16.6 percent to $9.0 billion primarily because of falling prices, inventory adjustments at data centers, and stagnating sales of smartphones.
Petrochemical exports fell 10.7 percent to $3.6 billion in spite of increasing oil prices. Domestic companies expanded their inventories ahead of large-scale maintenance, and global supply increased.
Ships improved 5.4 percent to $2.1 billion. This is mostly attributable to stronger exports of drill ships and liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers.
Plastic products also gained 3.6 percent to $852 million. Sales of interior plastics and those used in secondary batteries were strong in China, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the U.S.
Bio-health products jumped 13.0 percent to $821 million on the back of robust sales of pharmaceuticals and medical devices such as ultrasound machines and dental implants.
Secondary batteries advanced 10.2 percent to $650 million mostly because of continuous growth of the lithium-ion battery industry and greater demand for such batteries in the EU and the U.S.
Electric vehicles spiked 94.8 percent to $222 million as a result of growing demand in the U.S. and Europe. Focused investment in electric cars by Korean companies also helped the growth.
By region, outbound shipments to China, ASEAN, and the EU decreased while those to the U.S., the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), India, and Central and South America increased.
Exports to China went down 15.5 percent to $11.5 billion as a result of lower sales of semiconductors, general machinery, petroleum products, and wireless communication devices.
Those to ASEAN dropped 7.6 percent to $7.9 billion on semiconductors, wireless communication devices, and petroleum products.
Outbound shipments to the EU fell 10.9 percent to $4.6 billion on semiconductors, computers, and displays.
On the other hand, exports to the U.S. climbed up 4.0 percent to $6.3 billion, thanks to higher demand for automobiles, general machinery, and petroleum products.
Those to the CIS went up 32.6 percent to $1.2 billion, led by general machinery, automobiles, and steels.
Korean goods shipped to India also advanced 13.7 percent to $1.4 billion. Strong sales of general machinery, displays, and auto parts helped the expansion.
Exports to Central and South America improved 20.6 percent to $2.7 billion, returning to growth after five months of contraction. General machinery, steel, auto parts, and petroleum products contributed to this increase.