|Samsung Electronics' semiconductor factory in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province. / Korea Times file|
By Jung Hae-myoung
The portion of semiconductors to the nation's exports fell below 20 percent last year due to a sluggish chip industry amid a global slowdown, while that of car shipments went up.
According to statistics from the Korea International Trade Association, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, and the Korean Customs Service, exports of semiconductors fell 25.9 percent to $93.9 billion last year from $126.7 billion in 2018.
Although semiconductors have been the top export product for seven years since 2013, its percentage of overall export products fell to 17.3 percent.
The second most exported product was cars, which made up 7.9 percent out of overall exports.
Cars, especially Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV) and green cars, saw an uptick in the difficult economic environment.
Although the number of cars exported decreased 1.9 percent compared to the year before, their value increased because the exports were of relatively expensive cars.
The export value of cars increased 5.3 percent from $40.9 billion to $43 billion, returning the sector to second place after it was pushed out by marine structures and oil products in 2018.
Oil products, car materials, display panels and sensors followed in the top 10 export products, with 7.5 percent, 4.2 percent, and 3.8 percent, respectively.
Plastic products emerged in the top 10 for the first time since 2015, pushing computers off the list.
Crude oil has been the most imported product for 19 years since 2000, but the cost percentage decreased to 13.9 percent from 15 percent due to lower prices.
Manufacturing equipment for semiconductors, which was fifth among imported products in 2018, failed to make the top 10 because of the downturn in the semiconductor industry.