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Korean exports in June decrease 13.5% to $44.2 billion 2019-07-01

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on July 1 that Korea’s exports in June decreased 13.5 percent year-on-year to USD 44.2 billion. Its imports declined 11.1 percent to 40 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $4.2 billion.
Exports from January to June went down 8.5 percent to $271.6 billion compared to the same period last year. Imports over the same period fell 5.1 percent to $252 billion, and the trade balance in the first half of this year came to a surplus of $19.6 billion.

The decline in exports is largely attributable to the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China and contraction in global trade. In particular, semiconductor, petrochemical, and oil refinery industries saw their export prices falling.

In terms of volume, on the other hand, exports in the first six months inched up 0.3 percent, suggesting that falling export prices are the main cause of declining shipments. In addition, June’s daily average exports moved up to $2.1 billion from May’s value of $2.0 billion.

By item, exports of semiconductors and petrochemicals decreased in June while those of automobiles, ships, bio-health products, secondary batteries, and electric cars increased.

Shipments of semiconductors last month fell 25.5 percent to $8.3 billion mostly on account of falling of memory chip prices, inventory adjustments at data centers, and lower demand for smartphones. A base effect also contributed to the decline.

Petrochemicals shipped abroad amounted to $3.1 billion, down 24.5 percent. This is largely due to declining prices and reduced production at some of the facilities.

In contrast, outbound shipments of automobiles went up 8.1 percent to $3.7 billion on the back of increasing global demand for sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and eco-friendly cars.

Ship exports gained 46.4 percent to $1.9 billion thanks to greater sales of liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers and very large crude carriers (VLCCs). Exports continued to increase as the delivery of ships ordered in 2017 began this March.

Exports of bio-health products moved up 4.4 percent to $744 million on the back of improved shipments of items such as dental implants, contact lenses, and ultrasound imaging systems.

Those of secondary batteries edged up 0.8 percent to $578 million. Greater sales were seen in the following items: high-powered products, including power tools and wireless vacuum cleaners; second generation electric cars; and energy storage systems (ESSs).

Electric car exports leaped 104.3 percent to $247 million as shipments to the U.S. and the EU increased. More investment in the segment by Korean companies also helped exports advance.

By region, exports to China and the EU decreased while those to South and Central America and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) increased.

Exports to China fell 24.1 percent to $10.5 billion due to reasons such as the U.S.-China trade conflict and diminishing global trade.

Those to the EU declined 3.1 percent to $4.3 billion as exports of petrochemicals, semiconductors, home appliances, and computers decreased.

Meanwhile, shipments to South and Central America rose 8.3 percent to $2.4 billion. Increases were experienced in exports of displays, steel, general machinery, and petroleum products.

Those to the CIS also jumped 29.4 percent to $1.1 billion on the back of stronger sales of automobiles, general machinery, steel, and petroleum products.

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