In July, Korea’s exports of information and communication technology (ICT) products reached a record high thanks to a boom in semiconductor exports. However, exports of mobile phones which dominated the global market, has been sluggish since they went downhill for 16 months in a row.
According to the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, ICT exports in July were US$15.71 billion, up 20.9% from the same period of a year earlier. This marked the 9th consecutive month of an increase since November of last year and a record July high.
The previous highest exports in July were US$14.43 billion set in July 2014. Although exports exceeded US$15 billion for the first time as July exports, they fall short of the highest export volume recorded in October of 2013 (US$16.57 billion).
Last month, the growth of exports was led by semiconductors which enjoyed the largest-ever boom. Korea achieved US$8 billion in semiconductor exports for two consecutive months because of rising DRAM prices and brisk exports of system semiconductors.
Strong exports of light emitting diodes (OLEDs) and next-generation storage devices (SSDs) took the lead in driving up display exports (US$ 2.44 billion) and computer and peripheral exports (US$840 million) rose 5.1 percent and 12.3 percent, respectively.
On the other hand, mobile phone exports have been on a downward spiral with sales dropping to US$1.217 billion, down 31.5 percent year on year. They continue to slide for 16 consecutive months since April of last year. Their drop also recorded a double-digit decline rate for seven consecutive months.
"Korean handset makers have increased their overseas production capacities as they have invested in overseas factory facilities such as those in Vietnam, and exports of related parts are on the decline due to the expansion of local procurement," said an official of the Ministry of Industry.
By region, exports to China grew 19.6 percent to US$8.06 billion, exports to Vietnam rose 44.6 percent to US$2.03 billion, exports to the United States swelled 21.6 percent to US$1.43 billion and exports to the European Union grew 13.3 percent to US$870 million year on year.
Meanwhile, imports totaled US$8.28 billion, up 15.2% mainly in displays and computers (by item) and from China and Vietnam (by region). The ICT trade balance, which takes away imports from exports is a surplus of US$ .43 billion.