South Korea’s export falls 5.4pc in 2020

SEOUL (XINHUA) – South Korea’s export fell last year due to an economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, but the slide was limited owing to a partial global demand recovery in the latter half of 2020, a government report showed on Friday.

Export, which takes up about half of the export-driven economy, declined 5.4 per cent over the year to USD512.85 billion in 2020, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Import contracted 7.2 per cent to USD467.23 billion, sending the trade surplus to USD45.62 billion. The trade balance stayed in black for 12 straight years.

Last year’s export topped USD500 billion for the fourth consecutive year, while the trade surplus picked up 17.3 per cent compared to the previous year.

For the whole year of 2020, the outbound shipment went down in single digits, but global demand partially turned around in the second half.

The country’s export retreated 11.3 per cent in the first half, before rebounding 0.4 per cent in the second half. During the October-December quarter, the shipment advanced 4.2 per cent from a year earlier.

Semiconductor export added 5.6 per cent over the year to USD99.18 billion in 2020, logging the second-highest yearly figure.

Computer shipment surged 57.2 per cent as people worked from home and attended online classes on the fear of virus infections.

Shipment of medical supplies in the bio-healthcare sector surpassed USD10 billion for the first time, continuing to rise for 11 years running.

Meanwhile, the export advanced 12.6 per cent from a year earlier to USD51.41 billion in December, exceeding USD50 billion in 25 months since November 2018.

The shipment tumbled more than 20 per cent in April and May, before recording the first rebound in seven months in September. It retreated 3.8 per cent in October, before expanding 4.1 per cent in November.

The daily average export increased 7.9 per cent over the year to USD2.14 billion in December, keeping an upward momentum for the third consecutive month.

Import climbed 1.8 per cent to USD44.46 billion last month, sending the trade surplus to USD6.95 billion. The trade balance maintained a surplus trend for eight months in a row.

Among 15 major export items, 11 grew in December as the COVID-19 pandemic raised demand for tech products.

Chip export jumped 30.0 per cent last month, continuing to rise in double figures for four
straight months.