IT trade surplus rises 2.9% to $77.3B

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IT trade surplus rises 2.9% to $77.3B

The trade surplus in Korea’s IT sector widened in 2012 from a year earlier as exports shrank at a slower pace than imports, the government said yesterday.

Outbound shipments of IT products amounted to $155.2 billion in 2012, down 0.9 percent from a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

Imports, however, fell 4.4 percent on-year to $77.9 billion, leaving a trade surplus of $77.3 billion, up 2.9 percent from 2011.

The surplus is also the second-largest yearly tally ever and 2.7 times larger than the $28.6 billion trade surplus for all sectors, meaning the IT sector helped offset deficits in other industries.

The ministry attributed the drop in exports partly to the debt crisis in Europe that pulled down demand in other key developed nations, including the United States.

IT exports to European Union countries dropped 6.7 percent on-year to $13.51 billion in 2012 with those to the U.S. plunging 21.2 percent to $13.76 billion.

On the other hand, exports to China, the world’s largest importer of Korean IT products, gained 7.1 percent from a year earlier to $79.05 billion with shipments to the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations surging 13.2 percent to $17.17 billion.

By product, shipments of system semiconductors jumped 23 percent on-year to $24.5 billion, surpassing exports of flash memory chips, which dropped 18 percent from a year earlier to $19.3 billion, for the first time in history.

Shipments of mobile phones, including smartphones, plunged nearly 20 percent from a year earlier to some $20.2 billion, solely due to an increase in overseas production by Korean manufacturers.

The ministry said the total sales by Korean manufacturers grew significantly as their combined global market share for all mobile phones grew from 27.5 percent at the end of 2011 to 31.2 percent at the end of the third quarter last year.

Their global market share for smartphones surged from 24 percent to 39.5 percent over the cited period.

The ministry said the country’s exports of its key IT products, including mobile phones, will likely grow this year due to “a recovery of the global IT market and growing demand for smartphones in newly emerging economies.”

Korea’s IT exports are forecast to grow 5.5 percent from last year to $163.8 billion, the ministry said.

Its trade surplus is also expected to gain 3.7 percent on-year to $80.2 billion.


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