Exports pass $50 billion in Dec. for first time since 2018

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Exports pass $50 billion in Dec. for first time since 2018

A container terminal in Incheon on Jan. 1. [NEWS1]

A container terminal in Incheon on Jan. 1. [NEWS1]

 
Korea’s exports in December totaled $51.41 billion, surpassing $50 billion for the first time in 25 months since November 2018.

 
Exports were up 12.6 percent on year, led by information technology-related products, including semiconductors, displays and computers, as well as bio health products like testing kits. 
 
Automobiles, steel, petrochemical products and petroleum products all saw exports decline on year, with petroleum dropping the most at 36.5 percent.
 
In the same month, Korea’s imports totaled $44.46 billion, up 1.8 percent on year, putting the country’s trade balance at $6.94 billion in surplus for the eighth consecutive month.
 
Annual exports for 2020, however, fell 5.4 percent on year to $512.85 billion as global trade plummeted as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The trade surplus stood at $45.62 billion, in the black for the 12th consecutive year.
 
In December, semiconductors exports grew 30 percent on the back of strong demand for mobile phones and computers. Exports of bio and health products reported a 104.4 percent jump, while ships were up 105.9 percent. Exports of household items also improved by 23.4 percent, while displays and car parts increased by 28 percent and 15.6 percent, respectively.  
 
Exports of key products grew largely by 3.3 percent to China, 11.6 percent to the United States, 26.4 percent to the European Union. Export growth to Central and South America was also notable, at 20.1 percent, and India at 16.8 percent.
 
Exports to Japan also grew for the first time in nine months since March, to 1.4 percent.
 
Exports to Middle Eastern countries declined 33.1 percent.
 
“There were lots of external struggles in 2020, including the spread of Covid-19, protectionist trade policies and low oil prices,” said Sung Yun-mo, Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy, in a statement. “There were risks, like exports falling 20 percent in the second quarter, but it recovered.”
 
He added that reporting record high annual exports of high added value products, like system semiconductors, OLED panels, testing kits and eco-friendly cars, as well as the export growth of small and mid-sized companies, are meaningful.
 
Exports of testing kits surpassed $10 billion last year, while system semiconductors, which account for 30 percent of total semiconductor exports, surpassed $30 billion for the first time. Exports of electric and hydrogen vehicles accounted for more than 10 percent of total car exports.
 
“Korea will actively enter emerging markets through RCEP [Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership] and the Korea-Indonesia CEPA [Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement],” Sung added.
 
BY JIN MIN-JI   [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]
 
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