Exports extend gains to 9th straight month in June

July 1, 2024

South Korea’s exports extended on-year gains to the ninth straight month in June on the back of record performance of semiconductors, data showed Monday.

Outbound shipments rose 5.1 percent on-year to US$57 billion last month, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Imports shed 7.5 percent on-year to $49 billion last month, resulting in a trade surplus of $8 billion. South Korea has been maintaining a trade surplus for 13 consecutive months.

By sector, exports of semiconductors, the backbone of Asia’s No. 4 economy, shot up 50.9 percent over the period to $13.4 billion. This marked eight consecutive months of year-on-year growth.

The ministry attributed the gains to the rising prices of memory chips, along with strong demand from the cloud computing and artificial intelligence sectors.

Outbound shipments of automobiles, on the other hand, edged down 0.4 percent to $6.2 billion due to fewer business days, although the decline was limited following the launch of new hybrid models.

Exports of petroleum products rose 8.4 percent year-on-year to $3.6 billion in June, driven by rising market prices, and higher demand for gasoline and aviation fuel.

Exports of displays shot up 26.1 percent to $1.76 billion following the release of new tablets employing OLED displays.

Outbound shipments of mobile devices also gained 3.9 percent over the period to $1.06 billion following the release of foldable models. Shipments of computers jumped 58.8 percent to $1.15 billion due to stronger demand from the United States and China.

By destination, overall exports to the U.S. increased by 14.7 percent to $11 billion, the highest for any June. Exports to the world’s top economy have been reporting fresh monthly highs since August last year.

The ministry attributed the gains to eco-friendly automobiles and SUVs, along with semiconductors.

Exports to China also gained 1.8 percent to $10.7 billion year-on-year, despite weaker demand for steel, driven by increased shipments of chips and displays, maintaining growth for four consecutive months.

Over the first six months of 2024, exports gained 9.1 percent from the previous year to $334.8 billion, while imports dropped 6.5 percent to $311.7 billion. The trade surplus came to $23.1 billion in the first half, marking the highest amount since $31.1 billion posted during the same period in 2018.

“Exports of semiconductors and other IT products, and shipments to China and Southeast Asia, which remained sluggish in 2023, have rebounded sharply,” Industry Minister Ahn Duk-geun said in a statement.

“With exports of automobiles and shipments to the United States setting fresh highs in the first half of this year, South Korea’s exports are heading toward the target of a new record beyond the recovery path,” he added.

Outbound shipments decreased 7.4 percent on-year in 2023 amid the sluggish performance of chips coupled with global economic uncertainties.