SINGAPORE (ICIS)–South Korea’s petrochemical
exports posted a 5.9% year-on-year increase to
$3.8bn in November, ending 18 months of
contraction, while overall shipments abroad
grew for the second straight month as factory
activity returned to expansion mode.
Overall exports up 7.8%; electric
vehicles exports surge 69.4%
Exports to China still down
November manufacturing PMI rises to 50.0
Higher petrochemical shipments were backed by
improved demand from the US, ASEAN and India
despite lower product prices as oil markets
weakened, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and
Energy (MOTIE) said on 1 December.
South Korea’s overall exports grew for the
month, with the 7.8% increase in November
the highest recorded since July 2022, thanks to
a turnaround in semiconductor shipments.
November exports stood at $55.8bn, while
imports declined by 11.6% to $52.0bn, resulting
in a trade surplus for the sixth consecutive
month at $3.8bn.
SHINESemiconductor exports in
November jumped by 12.9% year on year to
$9.5bn, ending 15 months of decline as memory
chip prices spiked, it said.
South Korea has the second-biggest share of the
global semiconductor market at about 18% in
“As new smartphone model releases and AI server
products are anticipated to boost demand and
enhance supply conditions, exports are forecast
to continue to improve,” MOTIE said.
Automobile exports also posted a double-digit
growth in November at 21.5% to $6.5bn, rising
for the 17th straight month, partly on strong
US demand for eco-friendly vehicles.
Electric vehicle exports surged 69.4% year on
year to $1.6bn, accounting for more than a
fifth of total automobile shipments.
The automotive industry is a major global
consumer of petrochemicals, which account for
more than a third of raw material costs of an
IMPROVESSouth Korea’s overall
exports to six out of nine major destinations
posted growths in November, led by the US,
which recorded a 24.7% year-on-year increase to
$11.0bn, according to MOTIE.
To India, exports rose by 10.8% to $1.5bn,
while shipments to Japan advanced 11.5% to
Shipments to the EU rose by 3.7% to $5.5bn,
while those to the ASEAN and Latin America grew
by 8.7% to $9.8bn, and 7.7% to $2.0bn,
However, exports to China – South Korea’s
biggest market – continued to contract, dipping
0.2% to $11.4bn, but the overall value remained
above $10bn for the fourth straight month,
China, which is the world’s second-biggest
economy, has been slowing down amid
weakness in external demand and a domestic
South Korea’s shipments to the Middle East,
meanwhile, declined 7.4% to $1.4bn.
FACTORY OUTPUT ENDS 16-MONTH
FALLManufacturing activity in
one of Asia’s highly industrialised economies
finally returned to expansion mode in November
after 16 months of contraction.
Its purchasing managers’ index (PMI) inched up
to 50.0 from 49.8 in the previous month, based
on a survey of manufacturers by financial
services intelligence provider S&P Global.
“Output levels broadly stabilized in November,
accompanied by the softest reduction in total
new orders since July 2022,” it said.
New orders declined for the 17th month, but the
rate of contraction has eased.
“A number of firms mentioned that demand
conditions remained muted amid subdued client
confidence and weakness in both the domestic
and global economies,” S&P Global said.
Manufacturing firms in the country, however,
“signalled the weakest degree of optimism for
five months amid concerns over sustained
economic weakness,” it said.
“The rise in employment levels was often
attributed to the filling of existing
vacancies. Meanwhile, buying activity was
partly raised in order to protect against
delivery delays and further price rises,”
S&P Global economist Usamah Bhatti said.
“As such, manufacturers signalled another
marked rise in cost burdens amid high raw
material prices as well as unfavourable
exchange rate trends. As a result, firms raised
output charges at the strongest pace since the
start of the year,” Bhatti added.
Global economic growth is expected to slow down
in 2024 amid prevailing high interest rates,
elevated inflation and with crude prices
staying firm amid output cuts by OPEC and its
South Korea posted a
third-quarter annualized GDP growth of
1.4%, the fastest so far in the year.
Focus article by Pearl