Korea’s exports advance 18% in January

(Source : MBC News)

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) announced on February 1 that Korea’s export value for January 2024 increased 18.0 percent year-on-year to USD 54.7 billion. Imports decreased 7.8 percent to $54.4 billion and the trade balance stood at a surplus of $0.3 billion.

January monthly exports recorded $54.7 billion (up 18.0 percent), growing for the fourth consecutive month and achieving the first double-digit growth since the 21.4 percent jump made in May 2022. Factoring in the number of working days, the average daily export value for January climbed 5.7 percent to $2.3 billion and monthly shipments gained 14.7 percent, increasing for the fifth consecutive month.

By item, 13 out of 15 major export items increased in exports, recording the highest number of items posting growth since May 2022 when 14 items achieved growth. To note, semiconductors soared 56.2 percent, the biggest climb made in 73 months and advancing for the third consecutive month.

Automotive exports (up 24.8 percent) reached an all-time high for January monthly export value at $6.2 billion, growing for the 19th consecutive month.

General machinery (up 14.5 percent) and home appliances (up 14.2 percent) grew for the 10th and eighth consecutive month, respectively, while displays (up 2.1 percent) and ships (up 76.0 percent) both increased for the sixth consecutive month. Petrochemicals (up 4.0 percent) and bio health (up 3.6 percent) improved for the third consecutive month.

Meanwhile, computers (up 37.2 percent) snapped the losing streak that persisted for 18 months since June 2022, and steel (up 2.0 percent), petroleum products (up 11.8 percent), automotive parts (up 10.8 percent) and textiles (up 8.5 percent) all broke their downward streaks as well.

By destination, eight of the nine major markets saw growth in January. Notably, China and the U.S. surpassed the $10 billion thresholds for the sixth and fifth consecutive month, respectively.

Exports to China (up 16.1 percent) snapped the losing streak for the first time in 20 months with $10.7 billion.

Exports to the U.S. (up 26.9 percent) continued the growth pace for the sixth consecutive month, hitting an all-time high for January monthly value at $10.2 billion.

Meanwhile, exports to India (up 5.6 percent) also amounted to a record-breaking $1.5 billion, and exports to ASEAN (up 5.8 percent) and Japan (up 10.6 percent) both increased for the fourth consecutive month.

Exports to the EU (up 5.2 percent), Latin America (up 28.2 percent) and the Middle East (up 13.9 percent) showed growth as well.

Korea’s January imports declined 7.8 percent year-on-year to $54.4 billion. The import of crude oil (up 6.0 percent) increased, but that of gas (down 41.9 percent) and coal (down 8.2 percent) dropped, shrinking overall energy imports by 16.3 percent. Non-energy imports contracted 4.7 percent.

The trade balance stood at a $0.3 billion surplus for January, continuing on the surplus pace for the eighth consecutive month since June 2023. It is noted that every January usually records a steep deficit, but this year’s trade balance improved by $13 billion year-on-year, boosted by strong exports.

Editor Jun-beom

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