South Korea’s exports fell 10.3 percent on year in 2019, the first two-digit decline in 10 years.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) said on Jan. 1 that Korea’s exports in 2019 totaled US$54.41 billion, down 10.3 percent from 2018. As a result, Korea posted a negative growth in exports in three years since 2016.
It is the first double-digit decline in 10 years since the minus 13.9 percent in 2009. “The drop is attributable to uncertainties in external conditions such as the U.S.-China trade dispute, Japanese export restrictions against Korea, Brexit, Hong Kong crisis and slumps in the semiconductor and petroleum industries,” a MOTIE official said
By item, semiconductors, which account for a large share of Korea’s exports, dropped 25.9 percent from 2018. On the other hand, automobiles turned to a 5.3 percent increase in 2019 from a 1.9 percent decrease in 2018. Korean companies such as Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors saw their shares in overseas markets recover. Exports of biotech and health products (8.5 percent), rechargeable batteries (2.7 percent), and agricultural and fishery foods (4.4 percent) also increased.
By region, Southeast Asia accounted for more than 20 percent for the first time.