The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on September 1 that Korea’s exports jumped 17.4 percent to USD 47.1 billion in August on record outbound shipments of semiconductors.
Exports expanded at a double-digit rate for the eighth consecutive month for the first time in 71 months since September 2011. The average daily exports rose by 17.4 percent to $2 billion and won-denominated exports surged 19.4 percent to 53.3 trillion won. Both export prices and volume advanced.
Imports grew 14.2 percent year-on-year to $40.1 billion on a significant rise in purchases of semiconductor manufacturing machines, bituminous coal, and copper ores. Trade surplus came to $7 billion, making Korea a net exporter for 67 consecutive months.
Exports accelerated thanks to overseas shipments of semiconductors hitting a record high as well as exports of many major industrial products ranging from petroleum products and automobiles to steel and displays showing double-digit growths.
Semiconductor exports soared 56.8 percent to an all-time high of $8.8 billion, marking the 11th straight month of growth. The stellar performance of the segment was attributed to stable prices of memory chips and strong demand driven by the launch of new smartphones.
Outbound shipments of petroleum products surged 36.1 percent to $2.8 billion with both export volume and prices growing amid the recovery of the global economy and higher oil prices compared to a year ago.
Automobile exports jumped 23.6 percent to $2.8 billion with shipments to most regions except the U.S. expanding, while overseas shipments of general machinery increased 14.8 percent to $3.7 billion, a record high for the month of August. Exports of solid-state drives (SSDs) broke a record, growing 57.6 percent to $536 million. This led a 16.1-percent rise in exports of computers and peripheral devices that reached $837 million.
Among five consumer product groups the Ministry tracks as promising export goods, outbound shipments of household goods tripled to $1.6 billion on robust sales in India, South and Central America, and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Cosmetics exports jumped 13.9 percent to $413 million.
Exports to all major regions expanded, showing that markets for Korean industries are diversifying.
Shipments to India leaped 136.6 percent to a record $2.1 billion, breaking the previous record of $1.6 billion set in July. Exports of petrochemicals, steel, and semiconductors in particular accelerated thanks to India’s fast economic growth.
Exports to the European Union (EU) soared by 43.2 percent to $4.7 billion on strong sales of automobiles, ships, and construction machinery. Shipments to China, the largest market for Korean exporters, advanced 15.6 percent to $11.9 billion, marking the 10th consecutive month of growth for the first time in 40 months since April 2014.
The Ministry projects the favorable global trade environment would continue in the near term with the economies of the U.S., China, and EU recovering and the information technology sector growing. The Ministry will continue to monitor worldwide trade protectionism, oil prices, and fiscal policies of major economies that may put a downward pressure on Korea’s exports.
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