Semiconductor exports slump 21.5% in Q1After reaching record heights last year, Korea’s semiconductor exports slumped in the first quarter this year amid falling global prices and demand.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said Monday in its monthly Information and Communications Technology (ICT) exports report that semiconductor exports fell 21.5 percent to $23.5 billion in the first quarter from the previous year. March semiconductor exports fell 16.9 percent on year, recording declines for four consecutive months since December last year.
The Ministry blamed slowing prices and demand on the drop in semiconductor exports, which include dynamic random-access memory (DRAM) chips and system on chips. Semiconductors last year recorded $126.7 billion in exports, accounting for the largest share of the total at 20.9 percent.
“Semiconductors continued its downward trend due to the declining prices of memory chips and slowing demand for system on chips,” said the Ministry in a statement.
The price for a 4-gigabyte DRAM chip was $2.56 on average in March compared to $3.13 in November last year, according to Trade Ministry data.
Data from DRAM tracker DRAMeXchange on Monday showed that the average daily price of a 4-gigabyte DRAM chip was at $2.21.
Total ICT exports in the quarter dropped 17.8 percent.
Other ICT categories also struggled, with phone exports tumbling 27.3 percent and display exports dropping 17.5 percent in the first quarter from the previous year. The Trade Ministry cited increasing competition from other countries for the fall in the two categories.
Excluding the European Union, ICT exports last month to the country’s major trade partners all fell.
Exports to China suffered the most, dropping 21.6 percent to $8.09 billion compared to the same month last year. Semiconductor exports to China fell 21.2 percent, while computers and related devices fell 38.8 percent.
Meanwhile, the EU imported $960 million of Korean ICT goods in March, a rise of 0.5 percent from the previous year thanks to a 37.6 percent increase in rechargeable battery imports.
The country’s broader components and materials exports slowed in the first quarter.
In a separate report Monday on exports for materials and components, the figure dropped 9 percent to $67.5 billion in the first quarter from the previous year after three consecutive on-year rises from 2016.
Electronic components, which accounted the largest share at 37 percent, fell 19.8 percent in the first quarter from the previous year. Chemical goods, the second-largest category, also decreased 9.6 percent.
BY CHAE YUN-HWAN [firstname.lastname@example.org]