Record trade surplus in 2009
Korea’s trade surplus for 2009 was a record high for the country, totaling $41 billion, while its December exports rose at the fastest pace in over 17 months, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy yesterday.
The previous record trade surplus was back in 1998 at $39 billion, amid the push to recover from the Asian financial crisis.
In a tentative report, the ministry said that exports for the whole year fell 13.8 percent on-year to $363.8 billion, mainly due to a lack of overall consumer demand. Imports decreased sharply, dropping 25.8 percent to $322.8 billion.
In December, exports jumped 33.7 percent on-year to $36.2 billion - the second consecutive month that Korea’s exports grew on-year. Meanwhile inbound shipments saw a 24 percent climb on-year to $32.9 billion.
For the first time, Korean products’ total global market share reached the 3 percent range. Also, the ministry said that Korea’s global export rank climbed to ninth place, three levels higher than in 2008 at 12th place.
The country’s daily exports came out at an average of $1.3 billion, falling 15 percent from 2008’s figure.
“In order to keep Korea’s export ranking at ninth place, we plan to improve export insurance and guarantee policies, support overseas marketing efforts and expand upon our overall trade infrastructure,” said Kang Myung-soo, head of the ministry’s export-import division.
In 2009, ships and liquid-crystal displays were hot export items. Ship sales rose 4.4 percent on-year to $45 billion even though there was a sharp decline in orders around the world. Ships are Korea’s No. 1 export item.
LCD exports jumped 28.5 percent on-year, reaching a record $23.4 billion for the whole year. The ministry said that the spike in LCD sales was due to government economic stimulus programs being introduced in countries including China, raising demand. However, automobile, steel, machinery and textile exports fell 27.4 percent, 22.9 percent, 28.3 percent and 39.2 percent on-year, respectively.
By region, exports to developed economies fell 21.2 percent on-year while shipments to developing nations dropped 12.5 percent. Overseas sales to the U.S., EU and China fell 18.9 percent, 21.6 percent and 7.5 percent respectively.
Due to a fall in oil prices as well as lagging domestic demand, imports dropped sharply on-year according to the ministry. Raw materials imports dropped 32.9 percent while total crude oil imports fell to $50.6 billion in 2009 compared to $85.8 billion in 2008.
In 2010, the ministry said that they expect Korea’s trade surplus to total $20 billion, with a rise in exports of 13 percent on-year and a rise in imports of 21 percent.
By Cho Jae-eun [firstname.lastname@example.org]