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Korea's ICT exports decline 16.7% in August 2023-09-15

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) announced on September 14 that Korea's exports and imports of information and communications technology (ICT) goods for August recorded USD 16.1 billion (down 16.7 percent year-on-year) and $11.1 billion (down 18.1 percent), respectively. The trade balance stood at a surplus of $5.0 billion.

ICT exports fell as a consequence of low semiconductor unit prices and sluggish demand for ICT devices. However, the export decline rate is slowly recovering as of April.

Semiconductor (down 21.1 percent to $8.6 billion) exports dropped as a result of falling unit prices and sluggish chip industry conditions, with system (down 14.9 percent to $4.0 billion) and memory chips (down 26.1 percent to $4.3 billion) both simultaneously declining. However, the decline rate is gradually improving as of January, when export drop was steepest (down 43.5 percent).

Display exports rose 1.8 percent overall to $2.1 billion, growing for the first time in 15 months as OLED panel exports increased, pushing up the entire display exports growth. Shipments showed a double-digit increase for Vietnam, where Korean firms’ major mobile phone production bases are located.

Mobile phone exports shrank 12.2 percent to $1.0 billion due to slow recovery of demand for devices, leading to reduced demand for finished products (down 30.6 percent to $0.2 billion) and parts (down 6.9 percent to $0.8 billion). Meanwhile, finished mobile product exports to Japan (up 716.5 percent) and the U.S. (up 75.8 percent) increased amid demand for new premium models.

Computers and peripherals (down 47.4 percent to $0.7 billion) declined as exports of electronic devices and solid-state drives (SSDs) for datacenters and servers continued to fall.

Communications equipment (down 9.5 percent to $0.2 billion) experienced growth in regions like India on the backs of demand for communications infrastructure, but the slowdown of the global economy reduced overall exports.

By region, exports to China and Hong Kong (down 20.6 percent to $6.6 billion) were negatively impacted by delayed production and consumption from local economic anxiety, which decreased exports of semiconductors, displays and mobile phones.

Exports to Vietnam (up 1.7 percent to $3.1 billion) posted growth for the first time in 13 months owing to growing demand for mobile displays, as some of Korea’s major mobile production bases are located in Vietnam.

Exports to the U.S. decreased 29.5 percent to $1.7 billion despite growth of mobile phone exports, as semiconductors and computers and peripherals declined.

To the EU (down 20.0 percent to $0.8 billion), shipments of semiconductors advanced, but those of mobile phones and computers and peripherals contracted.

Exports to Japan (up 13.0 percent to $0.4 billion) increased as demand for semiconductors, mobile phones and secondary batteries surged, driving up overall exports for the second consecutive month.