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Chip export volume gains solidly amid plunging prices

The volume of South Korea's chip exports has climbed more than 5 percent this year despite a tumble in prices of key products, data showed Monday.

The country's semiconductor exports totaled 29,834 tons for the year up to Oct. 25, up 5.2 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to the data from the industry ministry and the Korea International Trade Association.


In particular, the volume has been rising at a double-digit rate since July. In the first 25 days of October alone, the amount jumped 16 percent on-month to 2,557 tons.

South Korea's chip production has also gained in the 7 percent range this year in tandem with growing overseas shipments.

According to separate data by Statistics Korea, semiconductor output increased 7.9 percent on-year in the first quarter of this year, 7.3 percent in the second quarter and 8.3 percent in the third quarter.

The steady rise in chip export volume was attributed to the high quality of South Korean products and a trade standoff between Seoul and Tokyo, which has increased the chip industry's uncertainty and prompted clients to secure supplies in advance.

In early July, Japan slapped export controls on chemicals vital to the South Korean chip industry in apparent retaliation against a Seoul court's ruling last year that ordered Japanese firms to compensate victims of their wartime forced labor.

Despite the volume increase, the value of South Korea's chip exports tumbled 26.3 percent on-year to US$78.97 billion in the first 10 months of the year due to a nosedive in prices of DRAM and NAND flash chips, the flagship products of Samsung Electronics Co. and SK hynix Inc.

Yet the figure was a tad higher than the $78.69 billion for the same period in 2017 and well above the $62.23 billion for all of 2016.

Sinking chip prices have been a major drag on the export-driven South Korean economy, Asia's fourth-largest, making a big dent in the earnings of chip titans Samsung and SK.

Samsung, the world's largest memory chip and smartphone maker, suffered a 56 percent nosedive in its operating profit in the third quarter of the year, with its bottom line tumbling 52.3 percent.

Industry watchers, meanwhile, expected the value of South Korea's chip exports to increase sharply in 2020 from this year due to increased global demand, amid signs of a slowdown in price tumbles. (Yonhap)