- Korea’s exports in April fall 2 percent to $48.9 billion 2019-05-01
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on May 1 that Korea’s exports in April fell 2 percent to USD 48.9 billion compared to the same period a year earlier. Imports expanded 2.4 percent to $44.7 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $4.1 billion.
The decrease in exports was in part due to falling prices of semiconductors and petrochemicals as well as a slowing Chinese economy. Other external factors such as the ongoing U.S.-China trade dispute and stagnant world trade also contributed to the contraction.
Meanwhile, this single-digit decrease was smaller than March’s 8.2 percent decline. Exports, in terms of volume, increased 2.5 percent. Among 20 major export items, nine posted growth in value and 13 expanded in volume. Excluding semiconductors, exports inched up 0.8 percent to $40.4 billion. Along with healthy exports of automobiles and ships, the expected recovery of semiconductor demand will lead to improvement in exports in the second half of this year.
The nine major export items that experienced increases were general machinery, automobiles, ships, plastic products, bio-health products, agricultural products and fisheries, secondary batteries, cosmetics, and robots.
Decreases were seen in the remaining 11 items: semiconductors, petrochemicals, petroleum products, displays, steels, auto parts, wireless communication devices, textiles, home appliances, fine chemical materials, and computers.
By item, outbound shipments of semiconductors dropped 13.5 percent year-on-year to $8.5 billion due to falling prices of memory chips, prolonged inventory adjustments in data centers, and sluggish demand for smartphones.
Exports of petrochemicals reached $3.9 billion, down 5.7 percent. Despite the growth in export volume, declining prices caused by lower global demand resulted in the decrease.
However, the value of general machinery shipped overseas edged up 0.3 percent to $4.6 billion. Exports to the U.S. and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) posted growth.
Shipments of automobiles also advanced 5.8 percent to $3.8 billion as a result of newly launched models and growing popularity of sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and eco-friendly cars.
By destination, exports to China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) decreased while those to the U.S. and Central and South America increased.
Exports to China amounted to $12.4 billion, declined by 4.5 percent. This is largely attributable to a base effect as well as weaker sales of semiconductors, general machinery, petroleum products, and displays.
Those to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) also inched down 1.0 percent to $8.5 billion amid lower demand for semiconductors, petroleum products, textiles, and displays.
Shipments to the U.S., on the other hand, grew 3.9 percent to $6.2 billion on the back of automobiles, general machinery, and wireless communication devices.
Those to Central and South America jumped 39.7 percent to $3.1 billion mainly because of general machinery, displays, and petroleum products.
Meanwhile, imports saw a rise, which was led by crude oil (up 11.1 percent), liquefied natural gas (up 4.3 percent), gasoline vehicles (up 34.4 percent), and leather bags (up 22.9 percent).