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Korea's ICT exports fall 4.5% in October 2023-11-16

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) announced on November 14 that Korea's exports and imports of information and communications technology (ICT) goods for October recorded USD 17.1 billion (down 4.5 percent year-on-year) and $12.6 billion (down 8.3 percent), respectively. The trade balance stood at a surplus of $4.4 billion.

The ICT export decline rate recorded the lowest year-on-year as the unit price of memory chips rose and their export value posted growth for the first time in 16 months.

By item, exports of memory chips (up 1.0 percent to $4.5 billion), Korea’ s major export item, snapped the decline streak for the first time in 16 months and boosted the entire semiconductor exports. Accordingly, total semiconductor exports (down 4.7 percent to $9.0 billion) recorded the lowest decline rate for this year, continuing to show gradual recovery since hitting bottom in the first quarter.

Display exports improved 13.1 percent to $2.3 billion, posting growth for the third consecutive month as the increase in mobile OLED exports drove up entire display exports. The increase in shipments to Vietnam, where Korean firms’ major mobile phone production bases are located, led the growth at the helm.

Mobile phone exports (down 3.3 percent to $1.5 billion) shrank for the ninth consecutive month, owing to slow recovery of demand for both finished products (down 10.1 percent to $0.3 billion) and parts (down 1.8 percent to $1.3 billion). Meanwhile, the export value of finished products to the U.S. (up 810.5 percent to $130 million), mainly led by premium products, soared for the fifth consecutive month.

The export value of computers and peripherals (down 26.2 percent to $0.8 billion) dropped as exports of electronic devices and solid-state drives (SSDs) for datacenters and servers fell.

Communications equipment (down 23.4 percent to $0.2 billion) enjoyed growth in exports to regions like Japan (up 50.3 percent to $30 million), but overall exports faltered as the global economic slowdown reduced infrastructure investments.

By region, exports to China and Hong Kong (down 3.5 percent to $7.6 billion) saw partial recovery of demand for IT devices, with China-bound semiconductor shipments (up 1.1 percent to $5.1 billion) increasing for the first time in 16 months and marking down the decline rate to a single digit for the first time since September 2022.

Exports to Vietnam (up 0.3 percent to $3.2 billion) achieved growth for the third consecutive month as mobile display exports expanded.

Exports to the U.S. decreased 14.7 percent to $1.7 billion despite growth of mobile phone exports, as those of semiconductors, computers and peripherals declined.

Exports to the EU (down 12.3 percent to $0.9 billion) decreased as those of semiconductors, mobile phones and computers and peripherals shrank.

Exports to Japan (down 2.8 percent to $0.4 billion) contracted despite strong demand for communication devices, as those of semiconductors and mobile phones dropped.