S Korean exports hit record $644.5B in 2021

S Korean exports hit record $644.5B in 2021

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  • Exports surged 25.8% year-on-year to reach a fresh yearly high of US$644.54 billion in 2021
  • All of the country’s 15 major export items recorded a double-digit expansion in 2021
  • In December, Korean exports jumped 18.3% from a year earlier to hit a new high of $60.74 billion, extending growth into a 14th straight month
  • Among 15 major export items, the shipment of 10 products expanded in double figures last month

South Korea’s exports hit a record high in 2021 due to global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to government statistics.

Exports, which take up about half of the export-driven economy, surged 25.8% year-on-year to reach a fresh yearly high of US$644.54 billion in 2021, according to a January 1 report from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

They topped the previous record high of $604.9 billion in 2018, marking the fastest increase since 2010.

Imports soared 31.5% to hit a record high of $615.05 billion last year, sending the trade surplus to $29.49 billion. The trade balance stayed in black for 13 straight years.

All of the country’s 15 major export items recorded a double-digit expansion in 2021.

Semiconductor exports advanced 29% to $127.98 billion, and those for petrochemicals and oil products soared more than 50% to $55.08 billion and $38.15 billion each.

Global demand for locally made chips got steeper as the pandemic boosted a so-called contactless economy, while the shipment of oil-relevant products gained last year on expensive crude oil.

General machinery exports added 10.8% to $53.08 billion, and automotive exports advanced 24.2% to $46.47 billion.

Exports for steel, mobile devices, display panels, auto parts, and computers increased in double figures to $36.38 billion, $16.2 billion, $21.39 billion, $22.78 billion, and $16.82 billion, respectively.

Shipments to China, South Korea’s biggest trading partner, went up 22.9% from a year earlier to $162.94 billion in 2021, and exports to Southeast Asian nations picked up 22.3% to $108.88 billion.

Exports to the United States and the European Union increased in double digits to $95.9 billion and $63.6 billion each, and those to Japan, Latin American countries and India rose to $30.07 billion, $25.82 billion and $15.61 billion, respectively.

In December, Korean exports jumped 18.3% from a year earlier to hit a new high of $60.74 billion, extending growth into a 14th straight month and surpassing the previous high of $60.41 billion in November.

Imports surged 37.4% to $61.32 billion in December, sending the trade deficit to $0.58 billion.

Imports maintained double-digit growth for 11 months amid strong demand for commodities and intermediary goods, driven by domestic demand recovery and brisk exports.

Among 15 major export items, the shipment of 10 products expanded in double figures last month.

Photo by Busan Metropolitan city

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