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Korea’s ICT industry posts record-breaking exports of $220.4 billion in 2018 2019-01-17

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on January 17 that Korea’s information and communications technology (ICT) Industry posted record-breaking exports of USD 220.4 billion in 2018.
Outbound shipments of ICT goods last year increased 11.5 percent compared to 2017, achieving double-digit growth rates for two years in a row. Monthly ICT exports have also been increasing for 24 consecutive months.

Imports by the ICT sector in 2018 reached $107.1 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $113.3 billion, an all-time record.

By product category, exports of semiconductors jumped 28.6 percent to $128.2 billion from a year earlier, topping the $120 billion mark for the first time for any single export item. This achievement is attributable to increasing demand for memory and system semiconductors, both of which registered their respective all-time highs in exports.

Computers and peripheral devices also improved 17.4 percent to $11.3 billion, led by strong sales of solid-state drives (SSDs).

Meanwhile, outbound shipments of displays slowed down 8.4 percent to $27.8 billion. While exports of organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) expanded because of higher demand for televisions and mobile phones, those of liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) contracted mostly due to falling prices caused by fiercer competition.

Mobile phones also decreased 23.2 percent to $14.6 billion. More intense competition between finished products like smartphones as well as increasing overseas production of parts contributed to this contraction.

By region, ICT exports to China, including Hong Kong, rose 14.4 percent to $119.4 billion. Despite decreases seen in displays (down 21.0 percent to $14.1 billion) and mobile phones (down 37.0 percent to $4.3 billion), a 29.1 percent increase in semiconductor exports to $85.8 billion led to this growth.

ICT shipments to Vietnam climbed up 8.1 percent to $27.9 billion on the back of growing exports of semiconductors (up 18.7 percent to $11.0 billion) and displays (up 22.3 percent to $9.5 billion).

The value of ICT goods shipped to the U.S. grew 13.2 percent to $20.5 billion. While mobile phones declined 10.0 percent to $5.1 billion, semiconductors soared 54.8 percent to $6.9 billion. The exports of computers and peripheral devices also inched up 1.0 percent to $2.5 billion.

For December 2018, the ICT industry recorded $15.9 billion in exports, $9.3 billion in imports, and $6.6 billion in trade surplus.

ICT exports last month saw a year-on-year decrease of 10.0 percent due to falling exports of semiconductors, displays, computers and peripheral devices, and mobile phones.

Outbound shipments of semiconductors fell 9.2 percent to $9.0 billion, the first drop in 27 months since September 2016. Falling demand for memory chips and their prices contributed to this decline.

Display exports went down 6.4 percent to $2.1 billion. Even though OLED panels remained strong, LCD panels slowed down because of intensifying competition.

Computers and peripheral devices slid 15.1 percent to $769 million, decreasing for two straight months. While exports of computers improved, those of peripheral device slowed down.

Mobile phones also dropped 34.7 percent to $903 million as a result of intensified global competition, increased local procurement of parts in export destinations, and longer mobile phone replacement cycles.

In contrast, ICT imports gained 3.6 percent to $9.3 billion. While semiconductors shipped to Korea rose 18.5 percent to $4.1 billion, computers and peripheral devices fell 8.3 percent to $1.1 billion. Imports of mobile phones also went down 25.5 percent to $794 million.

By region, ICT imports from Vietnam increased 5.1 percent to $635 million and those from the EU and went up 1.1 percent to $587 million. Meanwhile, the value of ICT goods shipped from China and the U.S. decreased 9.1 percent to $3.5 billion and 6.3 percent to $708 million, respectively.

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