According to a report on August’s exports and imports (estimates based on customs clearance) released by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Korea’s exports in August swelled 17.4% year on year to US$47.1 billion. This means double-digit growth has continued for eight consecutive months in five years and 11 months since September 2011. This also marks that exports climbed for ten straight months.
Daily average exports grew 17.4 percent to US$1.96 billion compared to the same period of last year, while daily average exports except for ship exports were up 21.2 percent to US$1.86 billion.
Export unit prices inflated for the ninth consecutive month due to a rise in prices of steel, semiconductors, and petrochemicals. The volume of goods also went up due to a rise of the volume machinery and petroleum products in spite of a drop in the volume of electric home appliances and vessels.
Semiconductor exports significantly contributed to strong exports as in the previous month. Semiconductor exports hit a record high of US$8.75 billion in August, a 56.8 percent increase by gaining momentum from the second highest-ever in July.
High value-added organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) and solid state drives (SSDs) also posted record-high sales of US$860 million and US$ 540 million, respectively. Multi-chip package (MCP) exports jumped 29.3 percent to US$1.95 billion.
Among the 13 main export products, nine items enjoyed increased exports. Semiconductors, computers, steel, and general machinery showed strong results as they received benefits of high prices of mobile devices, rising commodity prices, and economic recoveries in advanced economies.
Among them, computer exports spiked for the fifth consecutive month (16.1%) due to an increase in high-end SSD exports mostly for data centers and servers due to a pickup in demand for big data storage and high-speed processing. A rise in OLED demand particularly for mobile devices pushed up display export to US$2.56 billion (10.6 percent), the highest since July of 2015.
Korean cars sold more compared to the same period of last year in markets except for the US market. With base effects from last year’s labor strikes, sales rose for seven months in a row or 23.6%.
Exports of wireless telecommunication devices (23.3%), household appliances (24.6%), auto parts (0.04%) and ships (25.8%) slipped due to an expansion of overseas production, a slump in finished product sales, a drop in unit prices due to intensifying price war and the base effects.
Promising consumer goods are also enjoying steadily increasing exports. Exports of household goods and cosmetics increased 203.4% and 13.9%, respectively, thanks to the rapid economic growth of India, Central and South America. Total pharmaceutical exports fell 10.3 percent, although biopharmaceuticals and complete pharmaceuticals put up a good fight in export markets.
By region, Korean exports to the ASEAN (US$7.52 billion) and India (US$2.05 billion) posted double-digit growths for 10 months and 8 consecutive months, respectively, taking the lead in exports.
Imports in August rose 14.2 percent to US$40.1 billion. As a result, the trade balance hit a net profit of US$7 billion for 67 consecutive months.