Korea’s trade surplus in the materials and components industry amounted to close to US$100 billion last year, setting a new record. Exports to the United States, China, and Japan increased substantially, while the dependence on industrial materials and components imported from Japan declined for three years in a row to reach a new low.
According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy’s data made available on January 16, the exports of the sector increased 3.8% from a year earlier to US$263.1 billion in 2013. The amount accounts for 47% of the country’s total exports during the same period. In the meantime, imports rose by 1.9% to US$165.5 billion to give a trade surplus of US$97.6 billion. The surplus remained over US$20 billion for 11 consecutive quarters.
By industrial segment, electronics components (US$5.7 billion), transport machinery parts (US$1.7 billion), and compound and chemical products (US$1.5 billion) led the growth in surplus, while primary metal posted a deficit of US$2.5 billion. By region, the trade balance improved against advanced and emerging markets and China, and the deficit against Japan was reduced.
The trade surplus vis-à-vis China was US$47.2 billion in 2013. China was the largest export destination (US$91.5 billion) for Korean materials and components exporters that provided a higher trade surplus (US$47.2 billion) than any other country. The exports to the ASEAN region and Latin America rose 14.1% and 5.8% as well, respectively.
Meanwhile, the trade deficit against Japan reached US$20.5 billion in the industry last year, but the amount dropped for a third consecutive year for the first time. This can be attributed to import source diversification following the conclusion of free trade deals with the US, the EU and the like, and the enhancement of local manufacturers’ competitiveness. In particular, the ratio of imports from the ASEAN region increased from 8.5% to 9.2% between 2012 and last year.