South Korea’s exports are poised to extend a losing streak for 14 straight months in January but the fall sharply slowed down from double-digit declines in the recent months thanks to a recovery in memory chip demand worldwide.
According to preliminary data released by the Korea Customs Service on Tuesday, the country’s exports totaled $25.7 billion in the first 20 days of January, down 0.2 percent from the same period last year. Daily exports averaged $1.77 billion, down 0.2 percent on year based on 14.5 working days, the same as a year earlier.
Mainstay memory chip exports rose 8.7 percent and petroleum products shipments jumped 19.3 percent from the same period a year earlier in Jan 1-20. But outbound shipments of automobiles sank 6.8 percent, wireless communication devices 6.2 percent and vessels 42.1 percent, more than erasing the gains from semiconductor and petroleum exports.
By country, exports to Vietnam expanded 6.7 percent, Japan 5.6 percent, Hong Kong 9.9 percent, and the Middle East 35.0 percent. Exports to China, Korea’s largest trading partner, however, shrank 4.7 percent. Shipments to the United States also fell 4.9 percent, the European Union 4.3 percent, and Singapore 15.8 percent.
Imports in the Jan. 1-20 period came at $28.1 billion, up 3.0 percent on year, to deliver a trade deficit of $2.45 billion.
Crude oil imports rose 14.7 percent, petroleum products 49.0 percent, and machineries 1.0 percent. Inbound shipments of gas decreased 2.7 percent, coal 34.7 percent, and automobiles 19.7 percent.
Imports from China went up 6.1 percent, the Middle East 1.7 percent, the U.S. 16.9 percent and Vietnam 7.7 percent, while those from the E.U. shrank 2.7 percent, Japan 15.2 percent, and Australia 2.4 percent.
By Cho Jeehyun
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