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South Korea’s Mobile Phone Exports Hit 16-year Low Last Year
Korea’s Mobile Phone Exports Plunge 23% in 2018
South Korea’s Mobile Phone Exports Hit 16-year Low Last Year
  • By Kim Eun-jin
  • January 21, 2019, 11:33
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South Korea's mobile phone exports fell 23.2 percent in 2018 from the previous year, hitting a 16-year low.

Mobile phone exports from South Korea hit a 16-year low last year.

The Ministry of Science and ICT announced on Jan. 20 that Korea’s mobile phone exports totaled US$14.61 billion last year, down 23.2 percent from a year ago. The value fell for the third consecutive year from US$30.03 billion, which was recorded in 2016, to become closer to the previous low of US$11.36 billion in 2002. This has to do with the slowdown of the growth of the global smartphone market and the rise of Chinese smartphone manufacturers.

The rate of decline in exports was 20.2 percent in Q1, 2018, 15.6 percent in Q2, 19.9 percent in Q3 and 35.3 percent in Q4. Mobile phone exports to China and Hong Kong dropped 37 percent to US$4.3 billion due to competition with local suppliers. Those to the United States fell 10 percent to US$5.05 billion. The share of domestic smartphone production stood at 9 percent in Q1 last year. The ratio of overseas smartphone production to total output jumped from 15.9 percent in 2010 to 56.5 percent in 2011, 80 percent in 2013 and 90 percent in 2017.

South Korean smartphone manufacturers’ global market share in terms of shipments is on the decrease as well. Specifically, it edged up from 23.3 percent in 2017 to 25.6 percent in Q1 of 2018 but fell to 22.4 percent in Q2 and 20.3 percent in Q3. This is because of a decrease in finished product exports in the presence of Chinese companies such as Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo.

Mobile phone component exports are showing no signs of recovery as well. The exports fell 29.7 percent last year with more and more phones produced in Vietnam, India and so on rather than South Korea.

In the meantime, market research firm Strategy Analytics recently said that the global smartphone shipments for last year are estimated at 1.44 billion units, down 5 percent from a year earlier.