The Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy announced on November 15 that South Korea’s exports for the first nine months of this year totaled US$430.19 billion, up 18.5% from a year ago, and that the amount is an all-time high in terms of cumulative Q1 to Q3 exports. The previous high was US$424.97 billion, which was recorded in the first three quarters of 2014.
In the first quarter of this year, South Korea’s exports increased by 14.7% from a year ago. The amount increased by 16.7% year on year in the second quarter of this year and increased by 24% to US$151 billion in the following quarter.
10 out of the 13 major export items of the country showed a positive growth in exports during the three quarters and eight out of the 10 showed a double-digit growth. For example, semiconductor exports increased 53.9% from a year earlier. DRAM and MCP exports totaled US$15.9 billion and US$14.9 billion for the nine-month period, respectively.
General machinery exports rose by 1% to US$36.23 billion as the construction sectors of major export destinations recovered and facility investment increased in emerging countries. General machinery exports to China and the ASEAN region increased 7.3% and 42.8% to US$7.9 billion and US$6.5 billion, respectively.
Steel exports rose 24.7% to US$26.79 billion based on an increase in export unit price and economic recovery in multiple countries. Steel exports to the ASEAN region and India jumped 41.3% and 42.1%, respectively. Display exports showed a growth of 13.1% as South Korean display manufacturers increased their overseas investment. Ship and petrochemical exports increased 36.7% and 26.3% each while automobile exports went up by 12%.
South Korea’s exports to nine major destinations increased during the same period and its exports to eight out of the nine showed a double-digit rise. Specifically, exports to China rose by 13.5% to US$101.67 billion, the ASEAN region by 30.6% to US$71.19 billion, Vietnam by 50.5%, EU by 22.8%, Latin America by 14%, and Japan by 12.7%. Exports to the United States totaled US$52.22 billion, up 5.3% from a year ago.
“Intermediate goods exports to China from the semiconductor, petrochemical and steel sectors showed a substantial increase as the Chinese economy showed a stable growth and South Korean manufacturers in the ASEAN region, which has been the second-largest export destination behind China since 2011, imported more semiconductors and displays,” the ministry explained, adding, “The ratio of South Korea’s exports to China to its total exports is on the decline and emerging markets such as the ASEAN, Vietnam and India are taking the place.” The ratio of South Korea’s exports to China and the United States to its total exports reached 39.2% in 2015 but fell to 38.5% in 2016 and 35.8% in the first three quarters of 2017.