November’s exports jump 9.6% year-on-year

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November’s exports jump 9.6% year-on-year

Korea exported $49.67 billion worth of goods in November, up 9.6 percent from a year earlier, extending its trade surplus rally to the 70th month in a row.

It was a record for exports in the month of November. The previous November record was $47.91 billion in 2013, according to the Trade Ministry on Friday.

Imports were $41.83 billion, up 12.3 percent from a year earlier. The country posted a $7.84 billion trade surplus, $700 million more than a month earlier.

Korea’s strong trade performance relied on strong demand for memory chips from semiconductor companies such as Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix. For the past 11 months this year, the accumulated value of all exported semiconductors amounted to $88.3 billion, an increase of 65.2 percent, or $9.57 billion, compared to the same period last year. In October, semiconductor exports alone accounted for 21 percent of total monthly exports, $9.48 billion out of $44.98 billion.

Every month this year, the semiconductor industry has enjoyed more than a 50 percent increase in monthly exports year-on-year on the back of strong global demand for smartphones and IT-related gadgets.

But Korea has to worry about its heavy reliance on semiconductors if the price of chips starts to decline in the second half of next year as Chinese chipmakers are expected to expand production.

Automobile exports struggled in some markets. Shipments bound for the U.S. dropped by 5.2 percent year-on-year in the first 20 days of November.

But thanks to strong sales in the European market of environment friendly hybrid and electrical cars, auto exports to the EU for the first 20 days of November stood at $360 million, a 39.3 percent increase over the same period a year earlier. Total auto exports saw a 3.2 percent increase for the first 20 day of November year-on-year, according to the government data.

For the first 11 months of 2017, Korea posted $90.2 billion trade surplus, up by 9.3 percent from a year earlier. Korea’s trade surplus with the U.S. for the 11 months stood at $17 billion, down 21.6 percent from $21.69 billion in the same period last year. The Donald Trump administration has been criticizing Korea’s trade surplus and demanding changes to a free trade agreement between the two countries.

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