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Korean exports in October decrease 14.7% to $46.8 billion 2019-11-01

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on November 1 that Korea’s exports in October decreased 14.7 percent to USD 46.8 billion from a year earlier. Imports saw a decline of 14.6 percent to $41.4 billion, resulting in a trade balance of a surplus of $5.4 billion.
The decrease in exports was largely due to the U.S.-China conflict and other external uncertainties, as well as the stagnant semiconductor sector and a slowdown in the global economy.

From November, exports are slated to improve on the back of the chip recovery and a potential "phase one" trade deal between the U.S. and China. It is forecast that exports of ships, automobiles, and petroleum products will expand, helping overall exports return to growth in the first quarter next year.

In volume terms, cumulative exports since January experienced a year-on-year growth of 0.5 percent. Average daily exports have been rising since July, remaining above $2 billion in the last two months.

By item, semiconductor exports fell 32.1 percent to $7.9 billion. Memory chip prices exhibited a steadier trend, but they are still below last year’s level. The inventory of DRAM chips that remained at glut levels despite increasing demand also contributed to lower exports.

Shipments of petrochemicals shrank 22.6 percent to $3.5 billion. This contraction is attributable to falling demand, decreasing prices, and increasing regular maintenance.

Exports of secondary batteries dropped 11.2 percent to $635 million mostly because of a base effect. In October 2018, shipments of secondary batteries had reached an all-time high of $720 million.

Meanwhile, bio-health products gained 7.8 percent to $816 million as the medical device markets in China and Russia are expanding. Korean dental implants and braces are popular in these countries and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) market. In addition, Korean businesses are diversifying export destinations for their botox products.

Cosmetics climbed up 9.2 percent to $626 million as more products were shipped to China and ASEAN. Those that drew attention were perfumes, face washes, makeup foundations, and deodorants.

Agricultural and fisheries products went up 3.0 percent to $756 million thanks to greater overseas demand for noodles and squids among many others. Exports increased to Japan, China, and ASEAN.

Regionally, exports to China slid 16.9 percent to $12.3 billion, following decreased shipments of semiconductors, petrochemicals, displays, and petroleum products.

Exports bound for the EU dropped 21.2 percent to $4.3 billion chiefly because of general machinery, auto parts, petrochemicals, and steel products.

Shipments to the Middle East, on the other hand, inched up 0.9 percent to $1.6 billion mainly due to growing demand for automobiles, ships, home appliances, and wireless communication devices.

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