South Korea’s exports are continuing to grow this month, led by automobiles and petroleum products. Yet semiconductor export growth is slowing down. The outlook is not rosy for the semiconductor sector as chip prices are falling and China is poised to boost its semiconductor production.
According to the Korea Customs Services, South Korea’s exports from Nov. 1 to 20 totaled US$31.6 billion, up 5.7% from a year earlier. The daily average, US$2.04 billion, rose 5.7%, too.
Petroleum product exports jumped 23.9% and automobile exports rose 14.2% whereas steel and liquid crystal device exports fell 0.2% and 37.1%, respectively. By export destination, United States posted an increase of 9.0%, the EU 43.4%, Vietnam 5.5% and Japan 8.5%. Shipments to China and the Middle East fell 4.3% and 23.4%, respectively.
South Korea’s imports totaled US$31.2 billion during the same period, up 12.8% from a year ago, with crude oil and gas imports showing a year-on-year increase of 36.3% and 27.0%, respectively. Imports from China increased 6.8%, the Middle East 22.0%, the EU 14.1%, the U.S. 26.8% and Vietnam 6.0% whereas those from Taiwan and Singapore fell 9.4% and 18.2%.
South Korea’s semiconductor export growth, in the meantime, dropped from 22.2% in October to 3.5% in the 20-day period of this month.
The year-on-year growth of the semiconductor equipment shipments from North America, which is regarded as a leading indicator of the global semiconductor industry, dropped from 40.8% in 2017 to 1.8% in September this year.
Both the DRAM and NAND flash prices are falling now. Their spot prices have decreased by more than 25% since the fourth quarter of last year. The DRAM price is likely to keep falling until the first half of 2019 due to an increase in inventory and a downward price pressure from the demand side.