South Korea’s technology exports declined for the first time in more than two years in July, in a sign that global demand is cooling as concerns mount about the outlook for the world economy.
Exports of information and communications products edged down 0.7% from a year earlier, after a 6.8% gain in June, trade ministry data showed Thursday. Memory chips, produced by firms like Samsung Electronics Co., led the falls with a 13.5% drop, even though overall semiconductor shipments still rose 3.1%.
Technology exports account for almost a third of Korea’s overall shipments abroad and the government releases a breakdown following the monthly trade report on the first day of each month. The drop in tech in July contrasts with a 9.4% rise in overall exports in the month.
Demand for semiconductors, computers and communications devices surged during the pandemic as many people around the world shifted to remote work and education to avoid the risk of infection. With the global economy emerging from the grip of the coronavirus, people are now spending more time outdoors and interacting, helping revive the services industry and similar sectors.
In further signs tech demand is slackening, South Korea’s smartphone sales dropped 29.2% and exports of computers and auxiliary devices dropped 21.9% in July from a year earlier. Display exports slipped 4.7%, the trade ministry said.
China, which has imposed strict Covid lockdowns on some of its cities this year, imported 8.2% fewer technology devices from South Korea compared with a year earlier. South Korea’s tech exports to the U.S. also declined 9.2%, while those to the European Union advanced 12.9%, the trade ministry said.
The customs office separately said Thursday that semiconductor shipments dropped 5.1% from a year earlier in the first 10 days of August. Overall exports increased 8.7% on average.
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