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According to Yonhap News,
(SEOUL=Yonhap News) In the midst of a booming global semiconductor industry, the share of information and communication technologies (ICT) exports reached a 10-year high.
On April 21, the Bank of Korea and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy revealed last year's ICT exports totaled USD 197.57 billion (about KRW 211 trillion).
Considering the fact that the industry's total exports amounted to USD 573.69 billion, ICT exports made up 34.4%.
Compared to the figures in 2016 (32.8%), it is a 1.6% increase, and the highest percentage since 2007 (35.0%).
ICT exports include semiconductors, displays, computers and related equipment as well as cell phones.
The reason for last year's growth in ICT exports can be attributed to the increased global demand for semiconductors.
The semiconductor market was worth USD 412.2 billion last year, up 22% from 2016.
The semiconductor market is divided into memory semiconductors (DRAM, NAND flash) and non-memory semiconductors (such as computer main memory devices). Last year, memory semiconductors that Korean companies are known for led the growth of the semiconductor industry.
The demand for memory semiconductors increased due to the growth of smart phones and big data industries.
As a result, Korea's semiconductor exports increased 60.2% to USD 99.67 billion.
It was the first time any single-item export surpassed USD 90 billion.
The share of ICT in exports and imports increased.
Last year, Korea's ICT trade volume was worth 299.64 billion.
ICT trade made up 28.5% of the country's total trade volume (USD 1.52 trillion).
This is the highest share of total trade since 2006 (29.0%).
ICT imports have increased sharply due to increased imports of semiconductor manufacturing equipment to meet the increased demand for semiconductors.
The boom in semiconductors is likely to lead to an increase in ICT spending in exports and trade.
The proportion of ICT to total exports in the first quarter of this year was 36.1%, slightly up from the previous year.
The share of ICT in total trade was 28.4%, similar to last year's record.
The Bank of Korea stated, "The growth of the semiconductor market led by DRAMs will continue until the first half of next year and gradually level off. The super growth of the semiconductor market will continue up to this year."
Some argue that Korea needs to prepare for the end of the semiconductor boom with another competitive product. The Chief Economist of the Hyundai Economic Research Institute remarked, "When China enters the memory semiconductor market in the next 2-3 years, Korean products will lose profitability and market share, and right now, we don't have a clear plan for growth once that happens.
He added, "Those in the industry have to decide whether to give up market share to China or continue competing. The government needs to come up with policies to ensure the competitiveness of major industries and find ways to prevent a crisis."
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** This article was translated from Korean.
Source: Yonhap News (Apr. 21, 2018)