Exports of industrial parts, materials weakened in 2016

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Exports of industrial parts, materials weakened in 2016

Even though the exports of parts and materials in the fourth quarter rose for the first time in seven quarters, the number of yearly exports dropped for the second consecutive year.

In 2016, the yearly exports of parts and industrial materials fell 4.8 percent to $251.9 billion, largely due to electronics, which fell 10.5 percent as the global smartphone market became more competitive, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said Monday. Parts and materials products include chemicals, metals, rubbers and computer-related parts. Outbound shipments of parts and materials rose 4.9 percent year on year in 2014 but declined in 2015 by 4.1 percent.

“Exports remained slow as more countries around the world are pursuing protectionist trade policy and the Chinese government’s decision to strengthen its policies on imports,” said Moon Shin-hak, a director at the Trade Ministry. “Electronics parts, in particular, remained weak last year as more Chinese manufacturers released relatively low and mid-price cellphones and as the prices of global semiconductors products declined.”

In fact, the market share of Samsung Electronics in the global smartphone market dropped from 24.8 percent in 2015 to 22.2 percent last year. During the same period, Chinese manufacturer Huawei’s share of the market rose from 5.6 percent to 9.3 percent.

Exports of materials and parts to China dropped 11.5 percent year on year, while exports for ASEAN countries rose 8.9 percent. Japan’s grew 3.2 percent, the Trade Ministry said.

“The exports to China dropped as more local manufacturers in China are producing their own products such as electronics, while the figure to the ASEAN rose largely thanks to the free trade agreement recently signed by Korea and Vietnam,” said Moon.

Even though the electronics-related sector remained weak, exports of rubber and plastic added 3.5 percent and machinery parts increased by 3.5 percent.

In the fourth quarter alone, however, exports of materials and parts rose 2 percent year on year to $66.3 billion. This was the first time in seven quarters that exports grew compared to a year earlier.

The Trade Ministry said it also is meaningful that exports of such products rose in both November and December, the first time in 20 months that exports rose for the second consecutive month.

BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]
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