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Exports see 8th month of double-digit growth

Sept 02,2017
Korean exports extended their double-digit growth to eight straight months in August, driven by record shipments of semiconductors, government data showed Friday.

Outbound shipments totaled $47.1 billion last month, up from $40.1 billion a year earlier, according to data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and the Korea Customs Service.

The country’s exports have been on a steady rise since November, led by an upturn in oil prices and recovering global trade. August marked the eighth month in a row that exports grew by double digits.

The average export value per working day also advanced 17.4 percent year on year to $1.96 billion, recording a ninth consecutive month of growth with won-denominated shipments rising 19.4 percent.

Imports rose 14.2 percent year on year to $40.1 billion last month.

The country’s trade surplus came out to $7 billion, marking 67 straight months that the country’s exports have exceeded imports, the ministry said.

“The upbeat pace in exports will likely continue for a while as the U.S., European and Chinese economies are growing,” Deputy Trade Minister Kim Young-sam said. “But there are still some possible downside pressures like a slowdown in the rise of oil prices, U.S. monetary tightening and strengthening trade protectionism.”

The ministry said the pace of outbound shipments of semiconductors has played a major part in spearheading the upside cycle.

Exports of chips surged 56.8 percent year on year in August to a record $8.76 billion, on the back of steady price increases and the release of new smartphones like Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy Note8.

Overseas sales of flat screens were on a roll, jumping 10.6 percent month on month to a two-year high of $2.56 billion last month on stellar OLED panel sales. Car sales vaulted 23.6 percent on demand from Europe.

Outbound shipments of petrochemicals increased 18.8 percent on an uptick in oil prices, and those of steel products leaped 13.8 percent thanks to eased global oversupply.

However, exports of wireless devices plunged 23.3 percent despite the scheduled rollout of new smartphone models, while overseas sales of home appliances slumped 24.6 percent.

Shipments of vessels slid 25.8 percent last month, and those of auto parts edged down 0.04 percent due to contracted demand from big markets like the United States and China.

By region, Korea’s shipments to China, the largest export market, gained 15.6 percent on steady demand for mobile chips and petrochemical products to mark 10 straight months of rise, while those to Vietnam jumped 36.9 percent, expanding for the 19th month in a row.

Exports to Japan landed in positive terrain for the 10th consecutive month to post a 5.5 percent year-on-year increase in August led by a rise in shipments of machinery and steel products in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. YONHAP