Korea’s export-import prices up in May for 4th straight month on weak won

2019.06.14 11:08:35

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South Korea’s export-import prices rose for the fourth straight month in May on the weak Korean won despite an extended fall in memory chip prices.

According to Bank of Korea (BOK) data released Friday, the country’s export price index in May rose 2.6 percent on month to 103.16 (base year 2015), its fourth straight month of price gains. The index was the highest since November 2018 when it reached 103.48, with the pace of growth the fastest since July 2018.

The import price index also added 2.2 percent on month to 113.66, climbing for the fourth month in a row. The index was the highest in seven months, with the pace of growth similar to February when it gained 2.2 percent.

The rise in the export-import prices was largely driven by the weak won. The won fell 3.7 percent in May from the previous month to 1183.3 against the U.S. dollar. When excluding the currency effects, export prices were down 0.9 percent on month and import prices 1.3 percent lower.

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Among export items, prices of computers, electronics and optical devices rose 2.1 percent, due to the 3.7 percent and 2.9 percent gain in mobile phones and LCD TV displays, respectively. Transportation equipment prices were up 3.4 percent thanks to a 3.2 percent rise in recreational vehicles. Chemical product prices rose 2.7 percent, driven by a 5.4 percent jump in carbon black prices.

But prices of the country’s mainstay DRAM memory chips slipped 0.5 percent, marking their 10th straight month of price decline. The pace was eased from April when prices plummeted 9.9 percent. But the BOK was hesitant to see the weakened pace as signs of recovery, projecting the industry downturn to continue for some time.

Among imports, crude oil prices added 1.4 percent, slowing from the 3.6 percent gain in April on retreating international oil prices. Prices of agricultural and fishery products picked up, jumping 4.2 percent in May compared with a 0.8 percent rise in the previous month.

By Lee Yu-sup and Kim Hyo-jin

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