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Korea's exports grow 5.1% in October 2023-11-02

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) announced on November 1 that Korea’s export value for the month of October grew 5.1 percent year-on-year to USD 55.1 billion, a first in 13 months. Imports shrank 9.7 percent to $53.5 billion, and the trade balance stood at a surplus of $1.6 billion, posting growth for the fifth consecutive month since June this year.

The daily average export value ($2.6 billion) for October, considering the number of operating days, again broke the previous highest record reached in September, and shipments also soared 14.2 percent, recording growth for the second consecutive month.

By item, semiconductors are continuing their export recovery pace, hitting $8.9 billion (down 3.1 percent) amid improving market supply conditions from lower memory chip production and expanding demand for high value-added products for new smartphone models and AI servers.

The export value of automobiles (up 19.8 percent to $5.9 billion) advanced for the 16th consecutive month on the backs of solid demand for high value-added cars like SUVs and eco-friendly vehicles across the U.S. and Europe, Korea’s largest auto export markets.

The export value of EVs (BEVs, PHEVs, FCEVs), which currently take up 19.4 percent of the total automobile export value, jumped 36.0 percent to $1.1 billion.

The export value of general machinery (up 10.4 percent to $4.3 billion) rose for the seventh consecutive month owing to increased infrastructure investment in the U.S. and ASEAN, as well as growing demand for heavy equipment in emerging markets like Latin America and the Middle East.

The export value of ships jumped 101.4 percent to $2.8 billion as a consequence of continued robust demand for high value-added vessels like container ships and LNG carriers, coupled with rising ship prices.

For petroleum products, the surging unit price of gasoline and strong demand for gasoline, diesel and kerosene pushed up the export value by 18.0 percent to $5.3 billion, an all-time high for this year. The export value of petrochemicals slid 3.2 percent to $3.6 billion despite increased shipments, as global oversupply reduced the export unit price.

The export value of wireless communication devices reached the highest for this year at $1.7 billion (down 4.5 percent), as exports of camera modules and other parts were positively affected by the iPhone 15 release.

Displays posted growth for the third consecutive month and amounted to this year’s record-breaking $2.1 billion (up 15.5 percent), as demand for OLED panels for mobile phones, laptops and such IT devices expanded.

By region, exports to six (U.S., ASEAN, Japan, Middle East, India, Latin America) out of Korea’s nine major destinations showed growth.

Exports to the U.S. (up 17.3 percent to $10.1 billion) advanced for the third consecutive month and hit an all-time high for the month of October, as exports of cars, general machinery and wireless communication devices increased and those of semiconductors and car parts also switched to positive growth.

For China (down 9.5 percent to $11.0 billion), the significantly improved decline rate of semiconductor exports (down 2.9 percent) pushed the export value over the $10 billion threshold for the third consecutive month.

Exports to ASEAN (up 14.3 percent to $10.6 billion) increased for the first time in 13 months and also reached an all-time high for the month of October, as those of major items like ships and petroleum products climbed sharply.

To the EU (down 10.7 percent to $5.0 billion), exports contracted as those of automotive items, general machinery, steel and other major items fell.

Those to Japan (up 10.4 percent to $2.5 billion) improved as demand rose for general machinery, steel and bio health.

Exports to Latin America (up 8.6 percent to $2.0 billion) expanded as demand for general machinery and displays increased.

Exports to the Middle East showed growth (up 8.7 percent to $1.5 billion) in spite of the decline of general machinery and steel, as those of automobiles and petroleum products enjoyed strong demand.

Exports to India (up 9.2 percent to $1.5 billion) grew in accordance with increased demand for petrochemicals and steel.

As for Korea’s October imports, the decreased import of energy sources like gas (down 54.3 percent) and coal (down 26.1 percent) resulted in an overall decline of 9.7 percent. Meanwhile, the import value of non-energy items dropped 5.0 percent year-on-year to $41.5 billion.