South Korea’s exports rose 11.2 percent to $40.3 billion in January from a year ago – the first double-digit growth in four years – thanks to a spike in mainstay memory chips and petrochemical products. Exports kept increasing momentum for the third consecutive month, the longest streak since April 2014.
Imports expanded 18.6 percent on year to $37.1 billion in January. The trade account recorded a surplus of $3.2 billion, maintaining black figures for the 60th straight month.
Exports of semiconductors reached a record high of $6.4 billion in January due to growing demand for high-capacity memory chips for mobile phones and PCs, an area in which Korea’s two chipmakers account for a half of global supplies. Petrochemical exports hit $3.5 billion, the biggest figure since December 2014 due to reduced costs and increased output capacity. Panel shipments grew 20.8 percent, the fastest pace since January 2013 owing to improved prices of liquid crystal displays and increasing application of organic lightemitting diode (OLED) for smaller panels.
By region, South Korea’s exports to China climbed 13.5 percent on year in January, marking the first double-digit growth in three years and five months. Exports also continued to grow to Vietnam, ASEAN, Japan, Europe, CIS and India. Exports to the Middle East turned positive.
In contrast, exports of shipbuilding, consumer electronics, wireless devices, automobiles and textiles remained sluggish.
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