Exports exceed $60 billion in Nov. for first time
According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Wednesday, exports in November increased 32.1 percent compared to a year ago to reach $60.4 billion.
This year, monthly exports have reached new highs three times: $55.5 billion in July, $55.9 billion in September and last month's figure.
The country's exports have increased for 13 consecutive months and the growth is beyond a mere base effect from a weak 2020, the ministry said.
In the last 11 months, exports have already reached $583.8 billion, 27 percent higher than a year earlier.
Semiconductors, the country's biggest export item, increased 40 percent in November to reach $12 billion.
Computer chip exports have been increasing for 17 consecutive months and have been above $10 billion for seven consecutive months.
High international crude prices led to increases in petrochemical exports, which increased 63 percent year-on-year to $4.8 billion.
Automobile exports increased 3.3 percent year-on-year to reach $4.1 billion, their first on-year increase in three months.
The automotive industry has been struggling with a shortage of computer chips.
While that shortage has not improved significantly, the statistics agency credited the release of new models targeted at European markets.
Car parts, a key export item, shrunk 2.2 percent to reach $1.8 billion.
The ministry noted that exports to all nine of Korea's major markets increased for eight months in a row.
Exports to the U.S. and Europe have been growing year-on-year for 15 consecutive months; to China and South America for 13 months; to Asean, India and central Asia for nine month; and to Japan and Middle East for eight months.
Growth in exports to the four major markets – China, the U.S., EU and Asean - showed double digit increases. Those four markets buy 20 percent of Korea’s exports.
Exports to Korea’s biggest customer, China, increased 27 percent year-on-year to $15.3 billion, while exports to the U.S. enjoyed 22 percent growth to reach $8.1 billion. Exports to the EU increased 18.9 percent to $5.3 billion and exports to Asean were up 32.8 percent to $10.6 billion.
Imports saw sharp increases last month due to the increase in raw material prices.
Imports grew 43.6 percent year-on-year to reach $57.4 billion.
Yet Korea’s trade surpluses continued on. Last month the trade surplus amounted to $3 billion and it was the 19th consecutive monthly surplus.
The emergence of the new variant of the coronavirus, Omicron, is becoming the biggest risk factor to trade in the future, with countries erecting barriers to visitors.
A World Trade Organization conference that was to be held in Switzerland was delayed because of the variant.
“The influence of the Omicron variant is not included in November’s exports figure,” said Moon Dong-min, head of the Ministry’s trade and investment bureau. “However, the government is closely monitoring the progress of the variant and seeing how it may influence our exports.”
BY LEE HO-JEONG [email@example.com]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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