The Korea Herald


Monthly exports break $60b-mark for first time

Yearly exports likely to mark all-time high in 2021

By Kim Yon-se

Published : Dec. 1, 2021 - 17:25

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A container terminal at Busan Harbor (Yonhap) A container terminal at Busan Harbor (Yonhap)
SEJONG -- South Korea’s monthly exports surpassed $60 billion last month for the first time on the back of the brisk outbound shipments of semiconductors and petrochemicals.

According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, exports posted an all-time high of $60.4 billion in November, up 32.1 percent from a year earlier.

“After initially surpassing $50 billion in October 2013, the monthly export volume topped the $60 billion mark in 97 months,” said the ministry. “Since July 2021, the average figure has been hovering over $55 billion.”

On a yearly basis, the export performance is also expected to attain a record high in 2021, given that the outbound shipments posted a record-high $583.8 billion for the first 11 months of the year, the ministry said. The current all-time high for 12 months was recorded in 2018 at $604.9 billion.

Of the 15 major export-oriented segments, positive growth was seen in 13, including semiconductors and petrochemicals. Among other segments leading the robust performance were computers, agriculture and fisheries, cosmetics, machinery and steel.

Outbound shipments to the US and the European Union increased for the 15th consecutive month, to China and South and Central America for the 13th consecutive month, to Southeast Asia and India for the ninth consecutive month, and to Japan and the Middle East for the eight consecutive month.

In particular, exports to China and Southeast Asia recorded monthly all-time highs of more than $15 billion and $10 billion, respectively.

Since on-year growth turned positive in November 2020, exports increased for a 13th consecutive month.

The continuous increase was mainly due to the “base effect,” in which the monthly figures in 2021 easily outstripped those in 2020, when COVID-19 severely hit Korea and the nation’s overall export destinations.

Meanwhile, the Trade Ministry highlighted that exports in November 2020 recorded 3.9 percent growth compared to November 2019. COVID-19 initially hit the nation in January 2020.

The ministry claimed that the performance over the past year was moving “in an upward trend, going beyond the pandemic base effect.” It said the outbound shipments of semiconductors came to $12 billion, which is the highest, based on a comparison of each November in past years.

The nation’s imports increased by 43.6 percent on-year to $57.4 billion last month. Similar to exports, imports increased for the 12th consecutive month on growing demand for crude oil, petroleum products and coal.