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South Korea’s Dependence on Japanese Components and Materials Falls Slightly
Material and Component Exports Drop Sharply
South Korea’s Dependence on Japanese Components and Materials Falls Slightly
  • By Jung Min-hee
  • August 22, 2019, 11:54
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South Korea’s reliance on Japan for material and component imports fell slightly in the first five months of 2019.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and the Korea Association of Machinery Industry announced on Aug. 21 that South Korea’s material and component exports totaled US$114,528 million, with a year-on-year decline of 10.3 percent, for the first five months of this year.

Specifically, electronic component exports dropped 22.1 percent and metal processing product exports, chemical substance and product exports, and textile product exports fell 17.5 percent, 9.7 percent, and 2.1 percent, respectively. On the other hand, general machine component exports, rubber and plastic product exports, precision equipment component exports, and transport machinery component exports rose 6.8 percent, 4.7 percent, 3.7 percent, and 2.2 percent, respectively.

South Korea’s material and component exports to China added up to US$33,172 million and those to the United States totaled US$12,881 million. The exports to the two countries accounted for approximately 30 percent of the total. Those to China, the largest trade partner, decreased no less than 18.8 percent with China’s demands falling due to its trade war with the United States. South Korea’s total material and component exports fell more than 10 percent as a result.

Those to the United States rose 2.8 percent and those to Vietnam jumped 9.1 percent to US$11,315 million. Vietnam has become the third-largest export destination for South Korean material and component suppliers. Their exports to Japan fell 6.3 percent on year to US$5,499 million.

During the same period, South Korea’s material and component imports reached US$72,376 million, down 1.4 percent from a year ago. Metal processing product imports, precision equipment component imports, textile product imports, chemical substance and product imports, and general machine component imports decreased 16.4 percent, 8 percent, 7.1 percent, 5.6 percent, and 5.2 percent, respectively. Electronic component imports, rubber and plastic product imports, and nonmetallic mineral product imports increased 3.4 percent, 2.7 percent, and 2.3 percent, respectively. Imports from China added up to US$23,104 million, followed by those from Japan (US$11,140 million).

From January to May this year, South Korea’s material and component imports from Japan went down 8.4 percent while its total material and component imports edged down 1.4 percent. As a result, the ratio of the imports from Japan to the total imports decreased from 16.6 percent to 15.4 percent.

During the period, South Korea posted a trade surplus of US$42,152 million in the materials and components industry, led by its US$4,668 million surplus with the United States and US$10,068 million surplus with China. At the same time, its trade deficit with Japan in the industry amounted to US$5,641 million, bigger than any of the other deficits. For reference, South Korea’s second-largest trade deficit in the industry, US$1,806 million, was with Taiwan.