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(LEAD) S. Korea's exports hit record high in 2018

All Headlines 10:30 January 01, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details from fourth para)
By Kim Eun-jung

SEOUL, Jan. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports hit an all-time high last year on brisk sales of memory chips and petrochemical goods, government data showed Tuesday.

Outbound shipments came to $605.5 billion for 2018, up 5.5 percent from a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Imports jumped 11.8 percent on-year to $535 billion last year for a trade surplus of $70.5 billion, marking 10th consecutive year the country exported more goods than it bought, the ministry said.

Annual exports surpassed $600 billion for the first time, making South Korea the world's sixth-largest exporter.

Total trade volume exceeded $1 trillion for the second year in a row in line with the global economic recovery.

Shipments of memory chips hit a record $126.7 billion, and those for general machinery and petrochemical products broke the previous record to exceed $50 billion this year.

In contrast, sales of autos, displays and steel backtracked compared with a year ago due to toughening global competition and rising import restrictions in major markets.

Exports to China, South Korea's largest market, surged 14.2 percent on-year to $162.2 billion thanks to strong demand for memory chips, petrochemical goods and general machinery.

Shipments to the United States gained 6 percent to $72.7 billion, led by general machinery and memory chips, despite tougher import restrictions imposed by the Donald Trump administration.

Sales in Southeast Asian nations increased 5.3 percent to $100.3 billion on the back of memory chips, petrochemical goods, making the regional economic bloc a key market.

Containers are piled up at Busan Port on South Korea's southeast coast in this photo taken on Dec. 28, 2018. (Yonhap)

ejkim@yna.co.kr
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