Led by chips, ICT exports hit a record high in 2014

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Led by chips, ICT exports hit a record high in 2014

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Korea’s exports of information and communications technology (ICT) products and services reached a record high of $170 billion last year, the government reported Thursday.

According to data released by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, ICT products accounted for almost 30 percent of the nation’s $573 billion in exports, contributing to a 2014 trade surplus of $86.3 billion.

Semiconductors were the top ICT export category, thanks to DRAM and 3-D NAND flash memory chips. In 2014, memory chips became the nation’s first export product to surpass $60 billion, increasing 9.6 percent year-on-year to reach $62.7 billion. Semiconductor exports surged 33.2 percent last year to a record $34 billion, while shipments of system semiconductors slumped 9.8 percent to $22.5 billion.

Exports of display panels slipped 3.2 percent, as demand dropped in China, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Chinese producers of cheaper panels also dragged down prices for LCD televisions.

Meanwhile, Korean mobile phone exports grew 6.3 percent in 2014, despite lower demand for high-end devices and the success of low-end smartphone makers in China.

This could be another tough year for Korean companies, said the Trade Ministry, due to economic uncertainty in Europe, a weak Japanese yen and the narrowing technology gap with Chinese manufacturers.

Semiconductor sales are expected to keep surging thanks to rising demand for memory fed by the proliferation of large files like videos.

jiyoon.kim@joongang.co.kr [BY KIM JI-YOON]

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