Exports erode, but trade surplus streak continues

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Exports erode, but trade surplus streak continues

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Exports last month were down compared with a year ago, but the trade account continued to post a surplus in an indication that one of Korea’s economic fundamentals is unhindered.

According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, exports last month declined 1.5 percent compared with the same month last year to $44.7 billion. This is a turnaround from a 7.7 percent increase in August.

The Trade Ministry cited fewer work days because of the Chuseok holiday as the main reason.

Last month, there were 20 working days, which is two days less than in September 2012.

For the same reason, imports fell 3.6 percent year-on-year to $41 billion.

As a result, the trade surplus last month was $3.7 billion, continuing a string of surpluses that began in February 2012.

Exports of vessels, computer chips and smartphones grew. Exports of ships surged nearly 60 percent last month from a year ago, a sign of increasing orders in the global market.

Computer chips, wireless mobile devices and electronics goods maintained their growth trend.

Computer chip exports rose 21.4 percent thanks to the release of new smartphones like the iPhone 5C. Outbound shipments of the Galaxy Note 3 and LG Electronics’ G2 phablet helped boost exports of wireless communication devices by 2.7 percent from a year ago.

Exports of electronic consumer goods were up 16.8 percent, largely on strong demand for televisions.

Meanwhile, auto exports fell nearly 12 percent and steel products 16.3 percent.

Outbound shipments to the Asean market, although significantly less than the year-on-year growth posted in August, continued to rise. But exports to advanced economies including the United States, Japan and Europe all declined.

Exports to the United States declined 2.3 percent year-on-year, a significant turnaround from the 17.9 percent expansion in August. Exports to Europe were down 8.9 percent in August and 9.1 percent in September. Exports to Japan fell 0.5 percent, compared with a 13.3 percent drop in August.

Exports to China grew 0.3 percent.

China remained Korea’s largest export market by accounting 28.5 percent, followed by Asean markets with 14.2 percent and 10.7 percent in United States.

“There are still uncertainties lingering such as the jitters in the emerging markets,” said a Trade Ministry official.


BY Lee Ho-jeong [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]

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