Korea has achieved a trade surplus of close to US$100 billion in the field of materials and parts for industrial and commercial use, raising hopes of a new record.
The amount is more than twice the size of Korea's overall trade surplus of $43 billion, leading to cautious forecasts that the country's manufacturing landscape is shifting from finished products like electronics products, cars and ships to materials and components.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Thursday said the surplus is expected to reach $96.9 billion -- $22.1 billion in materials like synthetic resins, and $74.8 billion in components like memory chip,. The volume of components exports is expected to total $261.6 billion or around 47 percent of Korea’s total exports.
Choi Tae-hyun at the ministry said, "In the past, materials and parts were considered the weak points of the domestic industry, but they have now grown into the main factor in reversing the trade deficit from importing crude oil and raw materials."
The materials and parts industry was driven by mobile phone and car exports. As Samsung and Hyundai built more factories in China, Europe, Southeast Asia and the U.S., demand for Korean-made materials and components surged.
Major Korean conglomerates and their suppliers boosted investment in manufacturing components for screens and smartphone parts, leading to a gradual reduction in reliance on Japanese-made parts.
Since 2010, Korean materials and components makers have ranked fifth in the world after China, the U.S., Germany and Japan.