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Parts and materials technology development
Exports in August fall 13.6% to $44.2 billion 2019-09-02

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on September 1 that Korea’s August exports fell 13.6 percent from a year earlier to USD 44.2 billion. Imports decreased 4.2 percent to $42.5 billion and the trade balance showed a surplus of $1.7 billion, staying positive for 91 consecutive months.
The decline in exports was affected by several factors such as a base effect, fewer working days, and deteriorating external conditions, including the U.S.-China trade dispute and Japan’s tighter restrictions on exports to Korea. However, Japan’s move appears to have so far had limited effects on Korean exports.

In terms of volume, exports last month expanded 0.1 percent. Eight out of 20 major export items saw volume growth. They were semiconductors (up 4.5 percent), petrochemicals (up 2.6 percent), ships (up 60.8 percent), automobiles (up 4.2 percent), secondary batteries (up 13.6 percent), agricultural products and fisheries (up 6.0 percent), plastics (up 6.7 percent), and robots (up 27.0 percent).

In value terms, exports of semiconductors, petrochemicals, and petroleum products decreased while those of secondary batteries, agricultural products and fisheries, and cosmetics increased.

Specifically, chip exports dropped 30.7 percent to $8.0 billion compared to the same period last year. Prices for DRAM and NAND products continued to decline compared to last year and international companies adjusted their inventories. The U.S.-China dispute and Japan’s tougher export control measures added more uncertainties to the chip industry.

Outbound shipments of petrochemicals contracted 19.2 percent to $3.5 billion due to falling prices and demand for oil.

Exports of petroleum products moved down 14.1 percent to $3.7 billion. A base effect, lower oil prices, and an increasing number of refineries in Asia contributed to this decrease.

Meanwhile, exports of secondary batteries grew 3.6 percent to $632 million. Batteries for high power products such as power tools and wireless vacuum cleaners were in greater demand. More batteries were sold for second-generation electric cars. Sales of energy storage systems (ESS) for electricity and industry were robust in North America.

Outbound shipments of agricultural products and fisheries moved up 5.7 percent to $704 million, thanks to rising demand for agricultural products (up 8.2 percent), livestock products (up 11.3 percent), fisheries (up 2.3 percent), and forest products (up 6.6 percent).

Those of cosmetics inched up 1.1 percent to $519 million on the back of greater sales of deodorants, perfume, face washes, and foundation makeup products. Exports to China, Japan, and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) posted growth.

By region, exports to China and Central and South America contracted, but those to the CIS and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) expanded.

Exports to China went down 21.3 percent to $11.3 billion mostly because of decreased sales of semiconductors, petrochemicals, wireless communications devices, and steel products.

Those to the Central and South America inched down 18.3 percent to $2.0 billion largely due to lower demand for auto parts, general machinery, steel products, and displays.

Exports to the CIS gained 8.8 percent to $969 million on the back of improved sales of general machinery, auto parts, and petrochemicals.

The value of Korean goods shipped to ASEAN reached $8.6 billion, up 1.9 percent, following increased shipments of petroleum products, ships, wireless communications devices, and auto parts.

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