The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on June 1 that Korea’s exports jumped 13.4 percent to $45 billion from a year ago, marking the fifth consecutive month of a double-digit growth.
The average daily exports surged 16 percent to $2.1 billion, marking the sixth straight month of increase. Won-denominated exports also jumped 8.9 percent to 50.7 trillion won, growing for seven consecutive months for the first time in six years since May 2011. Both export volume and prices rose.
Imports grew 18.2 percent year-on-year to $39.1 billion. Korea stayed a net exporter for 64 consecutive months as trade surplus came to $6 billion.
The Ministry forecasts that exports would continue to grow along with the recovery of the global trade. In order to cope with existing downward risks including the rising protectionism across the world, exchange rate volatility and falling oil prices, the government will closely monitor relevant developments and endeavors to diversify export goods and target markets.
The Ministry also plans to develop statistics that analyze exports from a qualitative perspective including high added values of exports and job creation and release them from as early as the fourth quarter this year.
The continued expansion of Korea’s outbound shipments was driven by strong performances of main exports, most notably semiconductors, steel, petroleum products, and ships.
Semiconductor exports grew at the fastest pace of 63.3 percent to a record $8 billion as prices remain stable and smartphones increasingly used high-capacity memory chips.
Outbound shipments of steel jumped 36.5 percent to $3 billion on larger export volume and higher prices. Overseas sales of petroleum products advanced 29.8 percent to $2.8 billion on higher prices and demand in Asia. Exports of ships surged 27.5 percent to $2.4 billion with Korea selling a total of 18 units including a floating production unit.
Among Korea’s 13 main exports, petrochemicals, flat-panel displays, computers and peripheral devices, general machinery, and automobile also saw growths in outbound shipments. Meanwhile, exports of textile, automobile components, home appliances, and wireless communication devices contracted.
Other notable achievements made in May is that outbound shipments of solid-state drives (SSDs) leaped 74.7 percent a record $436 million, while those of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays rose by 21.9 percent to $718 million, the second highest on record.
By region, shipments to Vietnam, other Southeast Asian countries, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), India, the European Union, Japan, China, and the Central and South America region expanded, while those to the U.S. and the Middle East inched down.
Exports to China rose by 7.5 percent to $10.7 billion, marking the seventh straight month of increase for the first time in 37 months since April 2014.
Strong sales of semiconductors, steel, general machinery, and flat-panel displays helped boost shipments to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations region by 36 percent. They expanded for eight consecutive months, reaching $8.1 billion in May. Exports to Vietnam, an ASEAN member, leaped 56.9 percent to $4.2 billion, marking the 16th straight month of expansion as more semiconductors, flat-panel displays, and general machinery were shipped to Korean companies’ production bases in the country.
Shipments to the U.S. contracted 1.9 percent to $5.6 billion as slower sales of automobiles, automobile parts, and wireless communication devices offset larger shipments of general machinery, petroleum products, and computers and peripheral devices.
Imports from the U.S. surged 19.5 percent to $4.7 billion, reducing the surplus in the trade with the country. The accumulated surplus in trade with the U.S. between January and May was $4 billion less than that of the same period of 2016.
Korea’s total imports rose by a double-digit rate for the fifth consecutive month for the first time in 65 months since December 2011. Inbound shipments of semiconductor manufacturing equipment grew at a fast pace amid increased investment by major Korean companies. Purchases of crude oil and iron ore also leaped at double-digit rates.
* Short version