South Korea’s exports shrink in September, but chip sales show signs of recovery


SEOUL, Oct. 1 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s exports declined for the twelfth month in a row in September, but the decrease was the smallest yet this year due to a resurgence in semiconductor sales, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Outbound shipments dropped 4.4 percent year-on-year to US$54.66 billion last month, as demand for chips, the country’s primary export, decreased 13.6 percent from the same period in 2022.

This file photo taken Sept. 21, 2023, shows a port in the southeastern city of Busan. (Yonhap)

This file photo taken Sept. 21, 2023, shows a port in the southeastern city of Busan. (Yonhap)

Despite the overall decrease, the nation still reported a trade surplus of $3.7 billion in September, the largest volume in two years and the fourth consecutive gain, as imports dropped 16.5 percent year-on-year to $50.96 billion.

Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho (2nd from R) visits a production line of SK hynix Inc. in Icheon, 58 kilometers south of Seoul, on Sept. 27, 2023, in this photo released by his office. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The semiconductor sector, in particular, saw the highest monthly export value of $9.9 billion this year, while exports of petroleum products and petrochemicals decreased 7 percent and 6 percent year-on-year, respectively. Car exports, however, rose 10 percent, and global sales of machinery and ships increased 10 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

Steel products and display items also experienced export growth of 7 percent and 4 percent, respectively, in September.

The data suggests that the country’s exports may be on the path to recovery, as global demand for semiconductors has been rebounding.

South Korea releases its full monthly export data on the first day of every month.

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