This photo taken Monday shows containers at Busan Port, located in the southeastern city of Busan. (Yonhap)
South Korea’s exports from the beginning of the year to Monday surpassed the record-high annual outbound shipments of $604.9 billion, observed in 2018, setting a new all-time high.
According to data compiled by the Trade Ministry and Korea Customs Service, total outbound shipments surpassed the ful-year export record at 11:36 p.m. Monday. It is projected to surpass $640 billion on current trends, the Trade Ministry noted.
A Trade Ministry official pinpointed further development in Korea’s key industries, successful exports of new items and heightened value of outbound shipment items as driving forces behind this year’s robust growth.
“Our semiconductor, shipbuilding and auto industries were able to solidify their statuses in the global market, as the country minimized supply disruptions amid the pandemic,” the official said.
Memory chips produced by Asia’s fourth-largest economy accounted for 58.9 percent of the global smartphone memory market from January to September by accumulated data, the Trade Ministry noted. Auto exports came to $32.7 billion in the first nine months of the year, allowing Korea to maintain its place as the world’s fifth-largest auto exporter. The nation’s shipbuilding accounted for 20.3 percent of the global market on a cumulative basis as of September, gaining some 3 percentage points on-year.
Compared with more traditional export items, new items including bio-health, rechargeable batteries, cosmetics and packaged agricultural products gained a combined $12.3 billion in exports from Jan. 1 through Monday, compared to 2018’s annual figure.
Korea is the No. 7 global exporter and No. 8 in global trade so far this year, according to the World Trade Organization.
South Korea’s annual exports first hit $100 million in 1964 and proceeded to surpass $10 billion and $100 billion in 1977 and 1995, respectively, according to government data on outbound shipments.
The government paints a rosier outlook for exports next year, as the global economy recovers from the pandemic, but expects the spread of COVID-19 variants, supply chain bottlenecks and China’s slowed economic growth to pose as major hurdles. The Bank of Korea recently projected 1.1 percent growth for the nation’s exports in 2022, with the state-run Korea Development Institute forecasting 4.7 percent.
“We will make our best efforts to remove hurdles, strengthen outbound shipments of small and medium-sized businesses and build further grounds for future exports to allow the strong momentum to continue into next year,” Industry and Trade Minister Moon Sung-wook said in a statement.