The Korea Herald


Semiconductors again top list of S. Korea's export items in 2019

By Yonhap

Published : Jan. 28, 2020 - 14:50

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(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

Semiconductors continued to top the list of South Korea's largest export items last year, data showed Tuesday.

Outbound shipments of semiconductors came to $93.9 billion in 2019, accounting for 17.3 percent of the country's overall exports of $542.3 billion, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service.

The amount marks a 25.9 percent plunge from 2018, when semiconductors accounted for nearly one-quarter of South Korea's overall exports.

The drop has largely been attributed to a sharp drop in global prices of memory chips.

South Korea's overall exports dipped 10.3 percent on-year in 2019.

Automobiles were the second-largest export item for Asia's fourth-largest economy in 2019, with their outbound shipments coming to $43.04 billion or 7.9 percent of total exports, followed by petroleum products at $40.6 billion or 7.5 percent of the total.

Auto parts and flat display panels came next with $22.5 billion and $20.4 billion, respectively.

In import markets, crude oil topped the list with some $70.2 billion or 13.9 percent of total imports, followed by semiconductors at $47.03 billion or 9.3 percent.

Of the top five import items, four were energy products as Asia's fourth-largest economy depends nearly entirely on imports for its energy needs.

Natural gas imports amounted to $20.5 billion in the year, accounting for 4.1 percent of its total imports, followed by petroleum products with $17.5 billion or 3.5 percent of the total and coal with $14.2 billion or 2.8 percent.

By country, China was again the single largest destination of South Korean exports with some $136 billion or over 25 percent of its overall exports shipped to the world's second-largest economy, according to the data.

The United States came in second with $73.3 billion worth of South Korean goods shipped there, accounting for 13.5 percent of South Korea's overall exports, followed by Vietnam with $48.1 billion or 8.9 percent and Hong Kong with $31.9 billion or 5.9 percent.

The drop in South Korea's overall exports has been attributed to the prolonged trade dispute between the world's two largest importers of South Korean products, which appeared to have come to a temporary end as Washington and Beijing signed the so-called phase one trade deal at the beginning of this year.

In terms of a trade surplus, South Korea enjoyed the largest bilateral trade surplus in trade with Hong Kong, posting a $30.1 billion trade surplus in 2019 alone.

Its trade surplus with China came to $28.99 billion, followed by Vietnam with a $27.1 billion trade surplus.

Its largest trade deficit again came in trade with Japan, but its deficit with the neighboring country dropped sharply from a year earlier to $19.1 billion in 2019, also marking the smallest trade deficit with Japan since 2003.

Japan's exports to South Korea dropped sharply after Tokyo removed Seoul from its list of entrusted trade partners in July, prompting a nationwide and still strong campaign to boycott Japanese products. (Yonhap)