Semiconductors Lift South Korean ICT Exports to All Time High in 2022

South Korea shipments of information and communications technology (ICT) products in 2022 reached an all-time high of USD 233.3 billion, up 2.5 percent from 2021.  ICT exports achieved a trade surplus of $80.9 billion and make up 34.1% of Korea’s total annual exports. Imports went up 12.9% to $152.5 billion. ICT exports to most major regions expanded, however shipments to South Korea’s largest trading partner, China (including Hong Kong) shrank 4.9% to $102.3 billion as zero-COVID lockdowns and halted production lines resulted in weak demand.

Despite the growth in ICT exports overall, for the full year of 2022 South Korea’s trade balance was a deficit of USD 47.2 billion, more than double of the previous record deficit of USD 20.72 registered in 1996, and the biggest ever figure since 1956.

South Korea Industry

ICT exports Highlights

  • Exports all-time high USD 233.3 billion in 2022, up 2.5 percent from 2021.
  • ICT exports trade surplus of $80.9 billion and took up 34.1 percent of Korea’s total annual exports.
  • Imports went up 12.9 percent to $152.5 billion.
  • SMEs and middle-market companies (up 11.6 percent to $60.4 billion) in the ICT industry enjoyed growth for the third consecutive year, semiconductors (up 26.1 percent to $31.2 billion) at the helm.
  • Demand in the second half of 2022 slumped for displays, computers and peripherals.
  • Major export items like semiconductors, mobile phones, as well as promising items like OLED panels and secondary batteries, all improved in growth.
  • In spite of plummeting memory chip prices during the second half, total semiconductor exports for the whole ICT industry rose 1.7 percent to a record-breaking $130.9 billion.
  • System chips broke through the $50.0 billion thresholds with highest ever record of $50.7 billion.
  • For displays, OLED panel exports (up 4.0 percent to $15.1 billion) increased for the third consecutive year, but annual growth rate inched down 1.0 percent due to LCDs’ reduced production levels and intensifying price competition.
  • Shipments of mobile phones (up 4.9 percent to $14.7 billion) grew on the backs of robust demand for parts, while sluggish demand for devices in general led to less shipments of finished products (down 14.3 percent to $4.2 billion).
  • Shipments of computers and peripheral devices stood at $17.3 billion, down by 0.5 percent year-on-year owing to worsening inflation and consumer sentiment.

ICT exports to most major regions expanded.

China

  • Shipments to China (including Hong Kong) shrank 4.9 percent to $102.3 billion as zero-COVID lockdowns and halted production lines resulted in weak demand.
  • Semiconductors and displays showed declines.
  • Mobile phones (up 39.9 percent to $7.5 billion) saw demand for parts (up 46.3 percent to $7.4 billion) surge.

Vietnam

  • Exports to Vietnam rose 4.3 percent to $36.6 billion, surpassing $30 billion for the second consecutive year.
  • Semiconductors (up 16.0 percent to $16.3 billion) and displays (up 2.9 percent to $12.9 billion) led the climb.

U.S.

  • To the U.S., computers and peripherals (up 12.8 percent to $6.4 billion)
  • Secondary batteries (up 50.4 percent to $4.1 billion) drove up ICT exports by 4.4 percent to a record-breaking $29.2 billion.

E.U.

  • Shipments to the European Union (EU) totaled $13.7 billion, up 7.5 percent,
  • Demand for mobile phones (up 45.3 percent to $2.2 billion) and displays (up 67.8 percent to $0.5 billion).

Japan

  • The value of ICT goods shipped to Japan advanced 2.7 percent to $4.4 billion
  • Double-digit growth of shipments of computers and peripherals (up 23.1 percent to $0.7 billion) and secondary batteries (up 35.0 percent to $0.5 billion).

December ICT Exports Fell

ICT exports for the month of December (down 23.6 percent to $16.9 billion) declined from reduced demand across downstream industries and unit price falls for major items and destinations. Imports also dropped 10.9 percent to $11.8 billion.

The trade deficit in South Korea surged to USD 4.69 billion in December 2022 from USD 0.43 billion in the same month a year earlier a preliminary figure showed. However, it was smaller than the market consensus of a 6.74 billion gap. Intense cost pressures have seen nine consecutive monthly trade shortfalls.

Exports are dropping more than imports, as demand at home and abroad deteriorated due to as demand at home and abroad deteriorated due to intense cost pressures and a spike in COVID cases in some countries, particularly in China, South Korea’s biggest trading partner.

 

South Korea Exports Fall Less than Expected.

Exports from South Korea dropped 9.5% from a year earlier to USD 54.99 billion in December 2022, after a 14% plunge in the previous month, and compared with market expectations of a 10.1 percent fall, a preliminary figure showed.

It was the third straight month of decline in exports, amid deteriorating foreign demand as inflation pressures persist globally and the impact of economic slowdown in China, South Korea’s biggest trading partner.

Source: Statistics Korea, Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (MOTIE)

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