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(2nd LD) S. Korea's exports up 9.6 pct in Nov. on memory chips

All Headlines 11:52 December 01, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details from eight para; ADDS photo)

SEJONG, Dec. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports rose 9.6 percent in November from a year earlier to mark the 13th consecutive monthly gain, fueled by strong demand for memory chips and machinery, government data showed Friday.

Outbound shipments came to US$49.67 billion for November, up from $45.3 billion a year earlier, according to data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and the Korea Customs Service.

The total value of exports in the first 11 months of this year hit a record high of $528.4 billion.

Exports for Asia's fourth-largest economy have been on a steady rise since November 2016, led by an upturn in oil prices and recovering global trade.

Imports also jumped 12.3 percent on-year to $41.83 billion last month.

South Korea's trade surplus came to $7.84 billion, marking 70 straight months in which the country's exports have exceeded imports, the ministry said.

Containers are stacked at the southeastern port of Busan on Oct. 26, 2017. (Yonhap)

By region, outbound shipments to China, South Korea's largest trading partner, soared 20.5 percent, marking a fourth-month surge, while those to Southeast Asian nations advanced 13.4 percent, resulting in the 13th consecutive month of double-digit growth.

Exports to the U.S. market swung back to growth in November on increased sales of wireless communications and computers, as well as petrochemical and machinery products.

The ministry attributed the hike in exports to greater demand for semiconductors, machinery and petrochemical products, as well as steel, autos and displays.

The semiconductor industry has hit a super cycle, with demand for DRAMs for mobile chips and servers outpacing supply, boosting overseas sales by tech giants, including Samsung Electronics Co. and SK hynix Inc.

Displays also posted a robust performance on strong sales of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels, which are used in premium televisions and the latest mobile phones.

General machinery benefited from the infrastructure boom in developing nations in line with the global economic recovery.

Outbound shipments of petrochemical products rose for 14 months in a row, helped by the pickup in global oil prices and increased supply from new production lines.

Vehicle sales remained sluggish in the North American market, the top export destination, but strong demand for eco-friendly cars in Europe helped offset the overall exports, which rose 3.4 percent in November.

Sales in the U.S. market recovered on the back of brisk exports of wireless communications equipment and computers, as well as petrochemical and machinery products.

The government was upbeat about the export prospects next month but expressed concerns over the strengthening of the local currency, which could erode the profitability of companies.

"As exports continue to remain brisk, the total trade balance is expected to top 1 trillion won in mid-December," Paik Un-gyu, minister of trade, industry and energy, said in a release. "As the stronger won is expected to put the burden on exporters, the government will come up with additional measures to support small and medium-sized companies if the Korean won continues to rise against the U.S. dollar."

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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