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S. Korea's exports dip at fastest pace in 2019 on weak chip demand

This file photo, taken June 4, 2020, shows stacks of import-export cargo containers at South Korea's largest seaport in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)
This file photo, taken June 4, 2020, shows stacks of import-export cargo containers at South Korea's largest seaport in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)
SEJONG -- South Korea's exports dropped at the fastest clip in 2019 due to sluggish overseas demand for semiconductors, government data showed Friday.

The country's overseas shipments stood at $541.2 billion last year, down 10.3 percent from the previous year, according to the data from Statistics Korea and the Korea Customs Service.

Large companies in Asia's fourth-largest economy suffered bigger declines than smaller businesses.

Combined exports of 857 large corporations sank 13.5 percent on-year to $347.8 billion last year, the sharpest annualized fall since data tracking started in 2015.

Midsized firms' overseas shipments shrank 4.6 percent from a year earlier in 2019, with those of small companies declining 3.5 percent.

The top 100 firms in terms of export value accounted for 63.7 percent of South Korea's total overseas shipments, down 2.7 percentage points from 2018 and the lowest ratio since 2010.

Exports by the 10 leading companies took up 34.6 percent of the total last year, the lowest tally in three years.

Overseas shipments of electric and electronics products, including chips, tumbled 17.4 percent on-year, while those of petrochemicals decreased 7.7 percent.

Large firms' exports to China plunged 20.5 percent on-year in 2019 as Chinese demand for South Korean semiconductors fell.

The number of exporting companies in South Korea stood at 97,418 last year, up 1.2 percent from the prior year.

South Korea's imports were valued at $495.5 billion in 2019, down 6.4 percent from a year earlier, with the number of importers rising 4.2 percent to 192,791, according to the data. (Yonhap)
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