Nation’s exports drop in September

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Nation’s exports drop in September

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Korea’s exports fell 5.9 percent in September from a year earlier under the impact of declining shipments of cars and smartphones. Outbound shipments registered $40.9 billion last month, down from $43.4 billion compared to the same month last year, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Sunday.

The downturn dampened a cheerful mood from the August reading in which exports grew 2.6 year-on-year for the first time in 19 months, driven by higher demand for major Korean export items including smartphones.

Things took a turn for the worst in September as tech giant Samsung Electronics recalled its Galaxy Note7 over battery problems that led to a few models catching fire.

Exports of wireless electronic devices shrank 27.9 percent year on year, posting $2.4 billion. The September figure marks the largest fall since July 2012.

Along with the disappointing performance of mobile devices, automotive exports also had their worst performance in more than seven years, largely due to a union strike at Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors. The Trade Ministry estimates the strike cost the car industry $1.1 billion and 79,000 units. Car exports last month dropped 24 percent from a year ago to $2.4 billion.

Outbound shipments of semiconductors decreased by 2.6 percent to $5.7 billion.

Other troubled industry sectors undertaking restructuring efforts showed downbeat export performance, too.

Shipbuilders exported a total of 29 vessels last month, recording exports of $2.3 billion, down 13.6 percent.

Still, some items such as computer, display and auto parts saw increased exports.

Cosmetics, in particular, reported record-high exports of $420 million as demand surged in China and neighboring Asian nations. September’s cosmetics exports marked a whopping 75.1 percent increase over a year ago.

Despite the falling exports in general, the country managed to post a positive trade balance for 56 straight months due mainly to shrinking imports.

September’s trade surplus came to $7.1 billion with imports in September falling 2.3 percent on-year to $33.8 billion. The lower imports were driven by the decline of gas and petroleum products. Still, imports of consumer products increased.

By region, exports to Vietnam rose 16.9 percent last month while shipments to Japan increased 6.3 percent.

Exports to China, however, fell 9.1 percent in September from a year ago and those to the United States and the European Union also dropped 6.1 percent and 14.5 percent.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]

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