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South Korea's trade value hits all-time high in 2018

Published: January 01, 2019 14:29:46 | Updated: January 03, 2019 15:38:56


South Korea's trade value hit a new record high in 2018 as export topped 600 billion US dollars for the first time in the country's history, a government report showed Tuesday.

Export, which accounts for about half of the export-driven economy, reached a record high of $605.5 billion in 2018, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

It was up 5.5 per cent from the previous year, marking the biggest since the country began the outbound shipment in 1948.

The country's export surpassed 500 billion dollars for the first time in 2011, reports Xinhua.

Import advanced 11.8 per cent over the year to $535 billion last year, the largest ever recorded by the economy.

Helped by the biggest export and import, the trade value posted a fresh yearly high of $1.14 trillion in 2018, exceeding $1.0 trillion for the second consecutive year.

Trade surplus amounted to $70.5 billion dollars, staying in the black for 10 straight years.

The continued surplus came amid strong global demand for locally-made semiconductors, of which export jumped 29.4 per cent over the year to $126.7 billion in 2018.

Semiconductor was the country's sole export item that topped $100 billion in outbound shipment last year.

General machinery export surpassed $50 billion for the first time in the country's history, while shipment for petrochemicals and oil products also exceeded $50 billion for the first time last year.

Computer export kept an upward trend for four straight years thanks to robust demand for solid state drive, and textile shipment marked the first turnaround in four years on solid demand from emerging markets.

Automobile export fell 1.9 per cent last year on weak demand in the US market, and display panel shipment reduced on supply glut that led to lower product price.

Steel export inched down 0.6 per cent on the US protectionist moves, and auto parts shipment dipped 0.1 per cent on soft demand from China and the Latin American countries.

Export for telecommunication devices, such as smartphone, tumbled 22.6 per cent, and consumer electronics export retreated 18.3 per cent amid a stiffer competition and the local manufacturers that increased production in overseas factories.

Cosmetics export kept a double-digit growth for the seventh consecutive year amid the popularity of K-pop culture, and pharmaceuticals shipment gained 17.2 per cent as sales of some of locally-developed biosimilars were approved in the United States and the European Union (EU).

By region, export to China, South Korea's biggest trading partner, reached a fresh high of $162.24 billion last year, up 14.2 per cent from the previous year.

Shipments to the United States, the EU and Japan also gained ground on demand for chips, general machinery and petrochemicals.

Export to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) added 5.3 per cent to hit a new high of $100.28 billion in 2018, topping $100 billion for the first time.

In December alone, export fell 1.2 per cent from a year earlier to $48.5 billion. Import rose 0.9 per cent to $43.9 billion, sending the trade surplus to $4.6 billion.

The trade balance stayed in the black for 83 months through December.

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