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ICT exports reach $14.5 billion, imports amount to $9.4 billion in January 2019-02-21

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on February 21 that Korea’s information and communications technology (ICT) Industry in January totaled USD 14.5 billion in exports and $9.4 billion in imports. The trade surplus stood at $5.1 billion.
Outbound shipments of ICT goods last month decreased 18.2 percent compared to the same period of the previous year. This is attributable to declines in exports of semiconductors, displays, and mobile phones.

By item, the value of semiconductors shipped abroad fell 23.4 percent year-on-year to $7.5 billion due to decreasing demand for chips used in servers and mobile phones as well as their falling prices.

Exports of displays went down 12.7 percent to $2 billion. While those of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels expanded, declining prices of liquid crystal displays (LCDs) caused by fiercer competition led to this overall slowdown.

Mobile phones dropped 30.8 percent to $953 million as a result of decreased sales of parts even though shipments of finished products improved.

Computers and peripheral devices also saw a decline of 26.4 percent to $681 million with solid-state devices (SSDs) sinking 53.5 percent to $290 million.

By region, exports to China were down 33.2 percent to $6.5 billion. Decreases were observed in semiconductors (down 37.1 percent to $4.2 billion), displays (down 17.4 percent to $1.0 billion), and mobile phones (down 63.0 percent to $220 million).

ICT shipments bound for Vietnam edged down 1.3 percent to $2.4 billion. Semiconductors and displays advanced 3.0 percent to $1.1 billion and 3.1 percent to $740 million, respectively, but mobile phones shrank 17.1 percent to $210 million.

Exports to Japan also contracted 8.8 percent to $351 million amid slowing demand for semiconductors (down 25.1 percent to $100 million) and mobile phones (down 75.3 percent to $10 million).

Meanwhile, ICT goods shipped to the U.S. gained 14.2 percent to $1.5 billion despite waning sales of mobile phones (down 1.4 percent to $300 million) and computers and peripheral devices (down 43.5 percent to $130 million). Semiconductor exports that increased 68.7 percent to $520 million were responsible for this growth.

Shipments to the EU also grew 4.9 percent to $985 million on the back of secondary batteries whose exports amounted to $260 million, up 48.5 percent.

ICT imports inched up 0.7 percent year-on-year. While imports of displays, computers and peripheral devices, and mobile phones decreased, those of semiconductors improved.

Inbound shipments of displays slowed down 34.8 percent to $372 million. While OLED panels rose 23.9 percent to $100 million, LCD panels and display parts dipped 48.4 percent to $180 million and 33.9 percent to $90 million, respectively.

Computers and peripheral devices shipped to Korea declined 11.3 percent to $1.3 billion with computers inching down 1.1 percent to $850 million and peripheral devices falling 27.1 percent to $400 million.

Imports of mobile phones decreased 14.0 percent $939 million. Parts imports experienced a growth of 0.7 percent to $560 million, but inbound shipments of finished products fell 29.1 percent to $380 million.

Semiconductor imports, on the other hand, expanded 5.0 percent to $3.8 billion. While system chips fell 12.3 percent to $1.7 billion, memory chips surged 43.0 percent to $1.5 billion.

In terms of import origins, China decreased 7.5 percent to $3.7 billion as imports of semiconductors, mobile phones, and displays dropped.

Imports from Japan contracted 14.3 percent to $801 million mostly because of semiconductors and displays.

Those from the U.S. also shrank 11.3 percent to $672 million primarily due to semiconductors.

ICT goods shipped from Vietnam, however, rose 4.6 percent to $899 million led by televisions.

According to the Ministry’s analysis, the recent slowdown in ICT exports is largely due to decreasing demand for memory chips and their falling prices that started after the expansion phase of the industry’s super cycle.

The Ministry forecasts that ICT exports will turn to positive growth in the second half of this year. In the first half, new smartphone models will be launched and computer demand is expected to grow. In the latter half, the construction of more data centers is anticipated. Meanwhile, the memory semiconductor industry will recover when the economy experiences an upturn.

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