South Korea’s exports which had been in upturn for the last 16 months significantly lost steam in February, raising concern for the country’s trade outlook amid growing barriers in the world’s two largest markets of the United States and China.
According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Thursday, the nation’s export rose 4.0 percent on year to $44.88 billion in February, compared with 22.3-percent gain in January, due partly to 2.5 fewer working days from Lunar New Year’s holiday. Daily shipments remained robust, up 17.3 percent on year to average $2.3 billion, the highest-ever for February.
Five of the country’s 13 mainstay exports items increased by double digits against year-ago numbers. Semiconductor exports soared 40.8 percent on year to $9.01 billion, monthly record. Vessel delivery jumped 40.3 percent while shipments of computer expanded 29.5 percent to $860 million. Petrochemical exports gained 15.8 percent.
Exports of automobiles, machinery, displays fell.
Shipment to Japan surged 21.6 percent on year to $2.49 billion and exports to the European Union up 17.8 percent at $4.63 billion. Exports to Vietnam rose 14.2 percent to $3.63 billion.
Shipments to the United States fell 10.7 percent compared to a year earlier due to sluggish sales in automobiles, car parts, and mobile communication devices.
Import expanded 14.8 percent on year to $41.57 billion to deliver a trade surplus of $3.31 billion and extend the surplus streak to 73th straight month.
By Ko Jae-man and Cho Jeehyun
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]