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Exports up 40%, in best June in history

South Korea`s outbound shipments jumped 39.7 percent on-year in June to US$54.8 billion, according to the trade ministry. (Yonhap)
South Korea`s outbound shipments jumped 39.7 percent on-year in June to US$54.8 billion, according to the trade ministry. (Yonhap)

South Korea just had the best June ever in terms of export performance on strong global demand, as vaccine rollouts in major economies raise hopes for a recovery.

According to the Ministry of Trade, Infrastructure and Energy, the country’s total volume of exports last month came in at $54.8 billion, up 39.7 percent from a year earlier.

It was the best export performance that Asia‘s fourth-largest economy has ever recorded in June, and the third-best performance for any month of a year.

With June results added, South Korea has achieved over $300 billion in overseas shipments in the first half of 2021, which was again the best first-half performance recorded since the country began collecting monthly trade data.

“We have achieved the best H1 results in history from the strength of our manufacturing and others,” Minister Moon Seung-wook said. “Growth was not just in quantities, but also in quality with our export items attaining greater competitiveness.”

South Korea’s economy is heavily reliant on overseas sales of chips, display panels and cars, with many local firms deeply involved in global supply chains for IT gadgets and electric cars.

The June data comes as the government pins hopes on resilient global demand for such products, as the drawn-out COVID-19 pandemic continues to weigh down on domestic consumption.

A detailed look into trade data shows several milestones have been set last month.

Chips, the No. 1 export item, logged $11.16 billion in overseas shipments, which was a new record for the month of June. General machinery and petrochemicals rose 21.5 percent and 68.5 percent, respectively, to set new June record highs.

All of the country’s 15 biggest export items reported gains, fourteen of them in double-digits.

By export destination, advances were made at all of Korea’s nine major export markets, including China, the US, the EU and Southeast Asia.

The Trade Ministry said it was the first time since January 2011 that all 15 items and nine markets showed growth.

Imports gained 40.7 percent to $50.3 billion in June, which put the country’s trade balance for the month at a surplus of $4.4 billion. It was the 14th consecutive month that the balance stayed in the black.

The June export tally put the country’s six-month total at $303.24 billion, an increase of 26.1 percent from the first half of 2020.

The monthly export figure has been on an upward trend since November last year, with the recent four staying over $50 billion.

Also on Thursday, the state-run Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency released a new projection that the country’s exports for the whole of 2021 would reach a record high of up to $610 billion, growing some 19 percent from 2020. (From news reports)
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