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Exports by venture firms jump 21% in Nov.

Exports by South Korea’s venture firms grew more than 20 percent in November, a silver lining amid sluggish overall exports, data from a government-backed trade agency showed Thursday.

In November, a total of 2 trillion won ($1.66 billion) worth of goods made by venture firms were shipped overseas, jumping 21.7 percent from a year ago. In the same month, overall exports grew only 2.7 percent, according to data from the Korea International Trade Association.

It is the first time the growth rate has logged double digits since June 2015, when the number was 10.6 percent on-year. Exports by venture companies have maintained their winning streak since May.

For the first 11 months of this year, exports by venture firms grew 4.3 percent on-year, compared with the country’s overall disappointing export figures that marked a 7 percent decline. Last year, outbound shipments by venture firms increased 2.5 percent while overall exports dropped 8.0 percent.

Even though exports by venture firms take up less than 5 percent of total exports, it is a positive sign for the country’s exports, which are set to decline for two consecutive years. The country’s exports suffered from a record 19 straight months of negative growth, starting from January 2015, before it recovered in August.

“It implies that companies well-equipped with technologies and skills can do better in times of crisis,” Ryu Seung-min, a senior researcher at KITA, told the Korea Herald. “The figures may also be reflecting exports to overseas assembly lines of Korean companies, which have relocated their factories in recent years.”

Venture firms refer to small and medium companies with high growth potential, defined under the Special Measures for the Promotion of Venture Businesses Act.

By item, semiconductors accounted for the biggest proportion of exports, at $1.1 billion, growing 1.9 percent on-year. It was followed by plastic products and wireless devices, which increased 8 percent to $1.07 billion and 17.5 percent to $1.06 billion, respectively. Exports of consumer goods such as cosmetics and toothpastes soared 49.1 percent to reach $396 million in the first 11 months of the year, while flat display manufacturing equipment jumped 43.1 percent to reach $368 million.

By country, shipments to the US gained 8.2 percent on-year to reach nearly $2.19 billion in the first 11 months of the year, while exports to Vietnam jumped 18.8 percent to $1.76 billion.

Shipments to China inched down 0.2 percent to $4.11 billion while the country’s overall exports to China plunged 10.9 percent on-year in the first 11 months. 

By Park Ga-young (