The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on October 1 that Korea’s exports in September increased 16.7 percent to USD 55.8 billion, the highest on record since 1956 when Korea first started compiling trade data.
The achievement was possible despite two fewer working days compared to the same period last year. Korea extended export growth to 11 consecutive months, and recorded double-digit growth for seven straight months.
Average daily exports also set a new record, moving up 27.9 percent to $2.7 billion. The export value for the third quarter of this year recorded $164.5 billion, the highest in history.
Imports jumped 31.0 percent to $51.6 billion, and the trade balance stood at a surplus of $4.2 billion.
Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Moon Sungwook said that the performance was attributable to not only large semiconductor, automobile and petroleum companies with global competitiveness, but also small and medium sized enterprises that are expanding businesses based on innovative ideas and technologies.
A breakdown of exports shows that 11 out of Korea’s 20 export items posted growth. They are semiconductors, petrochemical products, general machinery, petroleum products, steel products, displays, computers, wireless communication devices, fine chemical materials, cosmetics, and agricultural products and fisheries.
Chip exports advanced 28.2 percent to $12.2 billion due to increased mobile demand and high prices for memory chips. This is the 15th consecutive month of increase.
Exports of petroleum products spiked 78.7 percent to $3.5 billion. Oil prices exceeded $70 per barrel, driving up the export value for petroleum products.
Those of computers extended their gains to seven consecutive months and jumped 49.4 percent to $1.9 billion. Sales of consumer solid-state drives (SSDs) continued to grow because of remote working and learning. Client SSDs also showed solid sales as Korean companies expanded the market shares of high quality products. Exports of SSDs reached the highest value on record.
Meanwhile, outbound shipments of automobiles dipped 6.1 percent to $3.6 billion as the supply disruption of semiconductors has not been completely resolved, and some production facilities were closed for the Chuseok holiday.
Those of bio-health products slipped 0.5 percent to $1.4 billion. The demand for COVID-19 diagnostic kits slowed down as more people got vaccinated.
By region, exports to all major destinations increased.
Shipments to China went up 17.3 percent to $14.3 billion and went up for 11 straight months because of chips, petrochemical products, and wireless communication devices.
Those to the U.S. experienced a 14.5 percent growth to $8.0 billion. This is attributable to robust sales of general machinery, semiconductors, and secondary batteries.