+ A

Exports down for the 12th consecutive month

Dec 02,2019
Exports fell more than 14 percent in November on year, declining for the 12th consecutive month.

The weak result was attributed to a sluggish economy weakened by the protracted U.S.-China trade conflict and a slow recovery in the prices of semiconductors and petroleum and petrochemical products.

Korea’s imports during the same period were down 13 percent on year to $40.73 billion, and the trade surplus was $3.37 billion.

According to data from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Sunday, Korea’s on-year exports in November plunged 14.3 percent to $44.1 billion.

The country has experienced a double-digit decline in exports for six months straight.

On-year semiconductor exports last month dipped 30.8 percent, followed by petrochemicals at 19 percent and petroleum products at 11.9 percent.

The cancellation of a Samsung Heavy Industries drill ship order, and the fewer working days last month compared with the same month a year earlier, are also said to have contributed to the drop in the exports.

Exports of computers increased 23.5 percent, followed by bio-health products at 5.8 percent and cosmetics at 9.9 percent.

The rebound in NAND flash prices since June resulted in the increase of SSD exports for two consecutive months, according to the ministry.

SSDs are advanced computer storage devices.

Although the on-year exports of automobiles inched down 1.4 percent, electric car exports rose 87.8 percent.

Exports to the Commonwealth of Independent States jumped 31.6 percent, led by vessel and computer sales, while exports to the Middle East rose 1 percent on strong automobile sales.

Exports to Asean countries plunged 19.5 percent due to increased competition from global chipmakers, while exports to the European Union dropped 21.9 percent, largely due to sluggish demand for semiconductors and petrochemical products.

Exports to the United States decreased 8.3 percent on weak wireless product sales, while exports to China went down 12.2 percent largely due to weak semiconductor sales.

The trade deficit with China, which is Korea’s largest trading partner, reached its lowest level in seven months.

The rise in demand for telecommunications products like Amoled panels and 5G smartphones, which were commercialized in China last month, helped narrow Korea’s trade deficit with the neighboring country, according to the ministry.

Exports are projected to gradually strengthen in the first quarter of next year, according to the ministry. It argues the rise in supply of and demand for semiconductors, automobiles and petroleum products as well as the increased possibility of an easing in the trade conflict between the United States and China could help in the recovery of exports from Korea.

BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]