The Korea Customs Service announced on Sept. 23 that South Korea’s exports totaled US$28.5 billion for the first 20 days of this month, down 21.8 percent from a year ago. Previously, the country’s exports fell for nine months in a row until last month mainly due to sluggish semiconductor exports and sluggish exports to China.
Semiconductor exports dropped 39.8 percent from Sept. 1 to Sept. 20. During the same period, petroleum product and automobile exports fell 20.4 percent and 16.6 percent, respectively. On the other hand, ship exports increased by 43.2 percent, wireless communications device exports jumped 58 percent and consumer electronics exports rose 4.1 percent.
By country, exports to China dropped 29.8 percent while those to the United States, Japan, the European Union and Vietnam fell 20.7 percent, 13.5 percent, 12.9 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively.
At present, the decreasing exports to China attributable to its trade war with the United States are continuing to hinder South Korea’s exports. According to the WTO, South Korea’s commodity exports added up to US$138.59 billion in the second quarter of this year with a year-on-year decline of 8.6 percent and the rate of decrease was second only to that of Indonesia (9.1 percent) in the G20 group. During the period, the commodity exports of Germany, Japan, Finland, Britain and South Africa fell 7.1 percent, 6.6 percent, 5.2 percent, 4.6 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively.
Meanwhile, the United States’ commodity exports fell only 3.1 percent and China’s edged down by 1 percent, which means the trade war and the resultant slowdown of the Chinese economy are mainly affecting countries highly dependent on exports to China. During the period, the commodity exports of Australia jumped 10.5 percent, followed by those of Argentina (6.8 percent), Mexico (4.7 percent), Turkey (1.2 percent) and Canada (0.2 percent).