The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on Jan. 20 that the exports from the ICT sector of South Korea totaled US$176.9 billion with a year-on-year decline of 19.7 percent and the imports added up to US$108.4 billion with a year-on-year increase of 1 percent last year. The trade surplus hit a 10-year low of US$68.5 billion. For reference, it had been US$113.3 billion in 2018.
The 39.5 percent decline in ICT trade surplus is because South Korea’s semiconductor, display and mobile phone exports fell without exception along with the unit prices of the products. Specifically, the exports fell 25.7 percent year on year to US$95.16 billion, 21.3 percent to US$21.84 billion, and 17.8 percent to US$12 billion, respectively.
Its memory chip exports dropped 33 percent to US$63 billion last year with the NAND flash and DRAM unit prices falling 22.6 percent and 47.6 percent year on year in the second half of last year alone, respectively. In addition, despite foundry growth, its system semiconductor exports fell 2.9 percent to US$25.7 billion due to a deterioration of overall market conditions. Likewise, its LCD panel exports dropped 42 percent to US$7.93 billion as the unit price of the item went down amid an oversupply.
Last year, South Korea’s ICT exports to China and Hong Kong dropped 27.3 percent to US$86.78 billion. Those to Vietnam and the United States fell 2.6 percent and 10.5 percent, respectively.