The Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy announced on February 1 that South Korea’s exports and imports increased 11.2% and 18.6% year-on-year and totaled US$40.3 billion and US$37.1 billion in January this year, respectively. It added that the country recorded a trade surplus for the 60th consecutive month, the monthly exports showed a double-digit growth for the first time since January 2013 and continued to grow for three months in a row, and the average daily exports increased 16.4%.
Eight out of its 13 major export items showed an increase in exports with the exports of the 13 items as a whole increasing 12.8%. For instance, those of petroleum products increased by 67.4%, semiconductor by 41.6%, petrochemical by 34.9% and flat panel display by 20.8%, followed by steel (8.5%), general machinery (8.0%) and computer (1.1%). Meanwhile, textile exports fell 2.2%, automobile 4.7%, consumer electronics 16.1%, wireless communication equipment 17.0% and ship 17.5%. The country’s semiconductor exports hit an all-time high of US$6.41 billion.
Petroleum product and petrochemical exports continued to rise for three and four months in a row based on an increase in oil price. Specifically, the former totaled US$2.768 billion and the latter reached US$3.53 billion. Flat panel display exports added up to US$2.196 billion thanks to a continuous increase in OLED demand and LCD panel price. The export growth rate of 20.8% was the highest since January 2013. The exports of general machinery, steel and computers were led by an increase in demand for construction machinery, export unit value and demand for solid state drives (SSD), respectively.
When it comes to major consumer goods, cosmetics exports rose 25.8%, agricultural and marine food products 4.6% and fashion garments 0.1% whereas those of household items and pharmaceutical products fell 1.6% and 12.6%. The export growth rate was as high as 37.4% for OLED and 33.8% for SSD.
By destination, the country’s exports to Vietnam jumped 40.7%, followed by those to India (27.1%), the former CIS region (23.1%), ASEAN member countries (19.2%), Japan (19.2%), China (13.5%), EU (13.4%) and the Middle East (8.8%). Those to the United States and Latin America decreased 1.8% and 6.1% though. The exports to Vietnam rose for 12 months in a row and those to China three. The exports to China showed a double-digit increase in 41 months.