The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on August 1 that Korea’s exports expanded 19.5 percent to USD 48.9 billion in July as outbound shipments of high-value products significantly rose and markets diversified.
Exports grew at a double-digit rate for the seventh consecutive month for the first time in 70 months since September 2011. The average daily exports went up 19.5 percent to $2.1 billion, while won-denominated exports surged 18.5 percent to $55.4 trillion won.
The double-digit increase in exports was led by fast growing outbound shipments of semiconductors that hit the second highest on record as well as robust sales of high-value products such as solid-state drives (SSDs) and multi-chip packages. Korean businesses are also shipping goods to more diverse markets with exports to India reaching a record-high and those to Southeast Asia the second highest on record.
Imports jumped 14.5 percent year-on-year to $38.2 billion, marking the seventh straight month of a double-digit growth. Inbound shipments of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, bituminous coal, and iron ore significantly grew. For 66 consecutive months, Korea posted trade surplus, which came to $10.7 billion in July.
The Ministry forecasts that exports would continue to increase amid the recovery of the global economy and trade as well as rising prices of main export products. The Ministry will strive to support exports by small and medium enterprises, service businesses’ expansion to global markets, and diversification of export goods and markets, so that trade better contribute to the domestic economy and leads to job creation. It will also continue to monitor potential risks including rising protectionism, unstable financial markets, and sluggish oil prices.
A breakdown of exports showed that the total outbound shipments of Korea’s 13 leading products ranging from semiconductors and ships to petrochemicals and steel surged 22.1 percent with nine of them growing.
Semiconductor exports leaped 57.8 percent to $7.9 billion won, the second highest on record, as memory chip prices remained stable and IT devices are increasingly installed with high-capacity memory chips.
Exports of ships more than tripled to $6.1 billion with Korean companies selling 30 ships including two high-value offshore platforms. Outbound shipments of petrochemicals advanced 13.5 percent to $3.5 billion on higher prices and operation of newly added production facilities.
Record-high $516-million exports of SSDs drove up outbound shipments of computers and peripheral devices 11.3 percent to $803 million, while higher prices contributed to a double-growth of steel exports that reached $2.6 billion.
Among five product groups designated as promising consumer goods for exports, household goods posted a 76.2-percent growth in outbound shipments to $977 million as sales to India between July 1 and 20 soared more than 27 times. Exports of cosmetics and agricultural products also rose by 8 percent to $364 million and 6.1 percent to $678 million, respectively.
Exports to all regions except the Middle East and the Central and South America advanced. Shipments to India soared 79.2 percent to an all-time high of $1.6 billion as the introduction of goods and services tax on July 1 helped boost price competitiveness of Korean goods.
A surge in exports of high-value ships and Korean firms’ expansion of their manufacturing base to Southeast Asia led to a 31.5-percent increase in exports to the region that reached $8.4 billion, the second-highest on record. Exports to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region and the European Union also expanded at double-digit rates.
Shipments to China, Korea’s largest trading partner, went up 6.6 percent to $10.8 billion, and those to the U.S. went up 7 percent to $5.7 billion. The surplus in trade with the U.S. contracted by $180 million year-on-year with imports from the U.S. including semiconductor manufacturing equipment, automobiles, and agricultural products rising by 16.1 percent.
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