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Korea’s September exports post growth for first time since COVID-19, up 7.7% to $48.1 billion 2020-10-07

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on October 1 that Korea’s exports in September went up 7.7 percent to USD 48.1 billion, rebounding for the first time since the outbreak of COVID-19. Imports also increased 1.1 percent to $39.2 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $8.9 billion.

The September exports recorded growth for the first time in seven months, and the percentage of increase was the highest since October, 2018. The trade surplus also marked the largest figure in two years. 10 out of 15 major export items, including semiconductors, general machinery and automobiles, experienced growth. Exports to four major markets – China, the United States, the EU, and ASEAN – all turned to positive growth for the first time in 23 months.

By item, chip exports gained 11.8 percent to $9.5 billion. The demand for servers is slowing down, but the rise in home working and home schooling led to the continued upward trend in laptop demand.

General machinery turned to positive growth for the first time in seven months, and inched up 0.8 percent to $4.2 billion. The recovery in exports to China and the U.S. were primarily attributable for the increase.

Shipments of automobiles advanced 23.2 percent to $3.8 billion, recording the first year-on-year growth since March. Automobile demand in the U.S., the EU, and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is starting to recover, and the rise in prices of Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and eco-friendly vehicles contributed to the expansion.

Meanwhile, exports of petroleum products lost 44.2 percent to $2.0 billion. Despite production cuts by the OPEC+, oversupply concerns remained and the demand for crude oil is yet to recover.

Those of petrochemicals also experienced a decline of 5.3 percent to $3.2 billion. The demand for synthetic resins is improving thanks to the increase in packing materials and home appliances in the contact-free economy. However, the oversupply and the fall in prices led to the contraction in petrochemical exports.

By region, exports to China grew 8.2 percent to $12.3 billion on the back of semiconductors, general machinery, computers, and steels.

Those to the U.S. saw a 23.2 percent increase to $7.0 billion due to automobiles, semiconductors, computers, and home appliances.

Korean goods shipped to ASEAN rose 4.3 percent to $8.3 billion and turned to positive growth for the first time in seven months. Semiconductors, wireless communication devices, steels, and auto parts led to the growth.

Exports to the EU went up 15.4 percent to $5.1 billion because of automobiles, auto parts, textiles, and wireless communication devices.

Those to India advanced 28.2 percent to $1.5 billion. Increased demand for wireless communication devices, displays, home appliances, and computers contributed to the rise.

On the other hand, exports to Japan, the Middle East, the CIS, and Central and South America contracted.

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