South Korea’s exports shrank 11 percent in July from a year ago period, extending the losing streak for an eighth straight month due to a plunge in prices of the country’s mainstay memory chip and petroleum products.
The country’s exports in July totaled $46.14 billion, down 11.0 percent from the same month a year ago, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Thursday. Monthly exports have been shrinking since December. July exports, however, improved compared to June when it shrank 13.7 percent on year, the worst since January 2016.
Daily exports averaged $1.85 million, down 14.5 percent from the same period last year.
Shipments of the country’s mainstay items all slowed in July due to softening in global prices amid weak demand. Exports of semiconductors plunged 28.1 percent, petrochemicals 12.4 percent, and petroleum goods 10.5 percent.
Automobile and auto components shipments, however, improved 21.6 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively, on year. Home appliance exports also rose 2.2 percent along with bio-health products 10.1 percent, cosmetics 0.5 percent, and agricultural/forestry/fishery products 8.7 percent.
It was fourth straight month for the country’s auto exports to grow, the first time since May last year.
In volume terms, exports were up in July. Shipment volume expanded 2.9 percent on year, with semiconductor shipments jumping 14.9 percent, petrochemicals 11.9 percent, and petroleum products 8.9 percent.
While the country’s exports in terms of amount has been on a downward spiral since December but in terms of volume, exports have been seesawing – up 8.0 percent in January but shrinking 3.4 percent in February, 0.9 percent in March, then recovering to up 2.2 percent in April and 0.6 percent in May. The exports volume in June shrived 5.1 percent.
By region, exports to China plunged 16.3 percent and to the United States 0.7 percent. But shipments to ASEAN countries gained 0.5 percent and CIS countries 14.5 percent.
Imports in July recorded $53.7 billion, down 2.7 percent from the same month last year and delivered a trade surplus of $2.4 billion.
Imports from Japan, which slammed restriction on shipping of three advanced technology materials necessary in manufacturing semiconductors and displays over its diplomatic dispute with Seoul over wartime issues, shrank 9.4 percent on year to $4.16 billion. The reduction was slower than the average falling rate in the first half of this year despite zero imports of those materials, indicating a limited impact of Japan’s export curbs on Korea’s overall imports last month.
By Chung Seok-woo and Cho Jeehyun
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