South Korea’s exports lost their growth momentum kept up for the 17th straight month in April, although value stayed robust thanks to still-strong semiconductors, data showed.
The country’s exports in April slipped 1.5 percent - the first year-on-year fall in 18 months - but turnover hit $50.6 billion to set a new record of outbound shipments topping $50 billion for two straight months, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Tuesday.
The ministry blamed the decline to the base effect as exports in April last year jumped 23.8 percent due to lofty deliveries of offshore plants and advance shipment ahead of a long holiday in May last year.
During the January-April period, exports grew 6.9 percent against the same period a year ago to a record high of $195.5 billion.
Daily shipments averaged $2.18 billion in April, down 3.7 percent to mark the first decline in 18 months. But when excluding vessel deliveries, the daily shipment figure grew 8.0 percent on year.
Seven out of the country’s 13 mainstay items were up against a year earlier. Shipments of five items including semiconductors and petrochemicals rose in double digits.
Semiconductor exports soared 37.0 percent on year to $9.78 billion, the second-highest ever, thanks to robust demand for the multichip package and solid state drive. Machinery exports jumped 13.1 percent on year to a record high of $4.79 billion. Petrochemical shipment topped $4 billion for the fifth straight month and petroleum products shipment exceeded $3 billion for six months in a row.
Exports of automobiles, display panels, telecommunication devices and home appliance shrank due to tougher competition and weaker demand. Vessel delivery and steel exports fell due to the base effect of large outbound shipment a year earlier.
Shipments to China rose 23.0 percent on year to $13.02 billion and exports to ASEAN countries were up 2.1 percent to $8.52 billion. Exports to India grew 4.5 percent on year to $1.27 billion, the highest-ever for April.
Exports to the United States, Vietnam, the European Union, and Latin American countries fell due to uncertainties from the revised trade pact and fiercer competitions.
Imports expanded 14.5 percent on year to $43.5 billion to deliver a trade surplus of $6.61 billion and extend the surplus streak for the 75th straight month.
By Ko Jae-man and Cho Jeehyun
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]