South Korea saw the volume of exports continue growing for a fourth consecutive month in February, showing signs of recovery from the coronavirus crisis, on the back of strong chip and automobile demand.
According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy on Monday, outbound shipments came to $44.81 billion last month, up 9.5 percent from the previous year. The average daily export volume increased 26.4 percent to reach $2.3 billion -- the largest for the month.
The on-year export growth rate, which stood at negative 3.9 percent in October, rose to 3.9 percent in November. Since then, it has been on an upward trajectory -- 12.4 percent in December and 11.4 percent in January this year.
“Despite expectations for global economic recovery and trade improvements, there are still uncertainties over the prolonged coronavirus crisis, protectionism, and changing trade conditions,” Sung Yun-mo, the Minister of Trade, Industry, and Energy, said.
“The ministry will try to find ways to keep the export momentum, and prepare support programs,” he added.
Among Korea’s top export products, chips led the overall export growth last month with their outbound shipments increasing 13.2 percent on-year to $8.3 billion. Soaring chip demand for data centers, IT devices and cutting-edge electric vehicles were thought to be the main drivers. Semiconductors accounted for some 18 percent of the entire export volume.
The export of automobiles rose more than 40 percent on-year for the second consecutive month in February, marking a whopping 47 percent growth. The export of petrochemicals products rose 22.4 percent while health care products, including coronavirus test kits, and displays saw their export volumes grow 62.5 percent and 19.1 percent, respectively, from a year earlier.
By region, exports toward China, the US, and EU gained 26.5 percent, 7.9 percent, and 48.2 percent, respectively, rising for four straight months.
The import volume of the nation jumped 13.9 percent on-year to $42.11 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $2.71 billion. It marked the 10th consecutive month for the country to record a trade surplus.
”The government and local businesses may have to keep a close eye on whether the upward trend of exports will continue, as it is still unclear if consumer spending in overseas markets has fully recovered,” an analyst from a local brokerage firm said.
Last week, the Bank of Korea revised up its growth outlook of exports for this year to 7.1 percent from 5.3 percent, compared to a 5.4 percent on-year drop in 2020.
By Kim Young-won (email@example.com