The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on July 1 that Korea’s exports in the first half of 2021 increased 26.1 percent, hitting the record-high value of USD 303.2 billion. It is also the first time that the half-yearly export value surpassed $300 billion.
Imports went up 24.0 percent to $285.1 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $18.1 billion.
Korea’s exports in June amounted to USD 54.8 billion, expanding 39.7 percent from last year. Imports jumped 40.7 percent to $50.4 billion.
The trade balance stood at a surplus of $4.4 billion, remaining positive for 14 straight months.
Exports hit the highest value for the month of June in history, exceeding $50.0 billion for four consecutive months. Daily exports climbed up 36.8 percent to $2.3 billion.
It is the first time in 10 years that all 15 major export items and shipments to all nine export destinations both expanded. It is also noticeable that exports to all nine regions showed double-digit growth.
Korea’s major export items all advanced in June.
Exports of general machinery gained 21.5 percent to $4.7 billion as the economy rebounded. In particular, shipments of construction machinery to the U.S., the EU, India, and Central and South America went up. Stronger demand for machining centers also drove up general machinery exports.
Those of automobiles jumped 62.5 percent to $4.0 billion amid the global shortage of automotive chips. Consumer sentiment in major markets including the U.S. and the EU improved as more people got vaccinated and the European Central Bank (ECB) maintained low interest rates and the quantitative easing programme.
Auto parts soared 108.2 percent to $2.0 billion despite production adjustments due to automotive chip supply disruptions and the extended lockdown in India. Automobile sales to the U.S. and China moved up above pre-COVID levels, pushing up sales of auto parts as well.
By region, Korean goods shipped to all nine major destinations increased.
Exports to the U.S. expanded 51.9 percent to $8.7 billion thanks to stronger demand for automobiles, chips, and petroleum products.
Those to Central and South America spiked 106.5 percent to $2.5 billion due to steel products, petroleum products, and auto parts.