South Korean exports surged 35 percent on year in September to an all-time monthly high of $55.1 billion thanks to strong demand for electronic components, steel and petrochemical products amid recovery in global economy.
According to data released by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Sunday, the last time exports grew at such pace was in January 2011. Outbound shipments climbed for the eleventh straight month and have been expanding at double-digit rates since the beginning of the year.
The year-on-year figure benefited from longer working days as the Chuseok holiday had been in September last year. Exporters also hurried shipments ahead of the long Chuseok holiday that would idle the industrial lines for nine full days in early October.
Underscoring the pickup in global economy, 10 out of Korea’s 13 mainstay export items recorded double-digit growth.
Semiconductor shipments soared 70 percent on year to hit a fresh high of $9.69 billion. Exports of multichip packages reached a record $2.48 billion, organic light-emitting diode (OLED) $1.01 billion and solid-state drives $540 million.
The continued strengthening in DRAM memory prices and releases of new smartphones drove shipments of semiconductors for the past 12 months, the trade ministry said.
Steel exports surged 107.2 percent on year to a record $4.67 billion thanks to rising steel prices and volume due to revived infrastructure activities across the world. Petrochemicals and petroleum products gained 41.5 percent and 49.5 percent, respectively, to extend their winning streak for almost a year, due to higher global oil prices and also tighter supply from disruptions caused by Hurricane Harvey in the U.S.
Exports to China grew 23.4 percent, rising for the eleventh month in September to $13.5 billion, the highest since October 2014, despite the ongoing diplomatic row over the U.S. antimissile system deployment in Korea. Exports to the U.S. also rose 28.9 percent to $6.61 billion. But Korea’s trade surplus with the U.S. in the January-September period narrowed 23.9 percent from a year earlier to $13.6 billion.
Imports gained 21.7 percent to $41.4 billion, delivering a surplus of $13.8 billion. Korea has raked in a trade surplus for 68 months in a row.
The trade ministry projected the growth pace to slow in October due to global monetary tightening, increased trade barriers and fewer working days.
By Kim Se-woong
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