South Korea: Exports Down, Shipbuilding Up

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Published Mar 15, 2020 7:04 PM by The Maritime Executive

South Korea topped China in shipbuilding orders in February, according to data from Clarkson Research Services.

South Korean yards won orders of 200,000 compensated gross tons (CGTs) to build eight ships in February, 67 percent of the global total. This was more than China, top in January, which only won 8,000 CGTs for one container ship. The Philippines also topped China with 60,000 CGTs to build four ships as did Japan with 30,000 CGTs for one vessel.

Disruptions to Chinese industry as a result of the coronavirus are likely the cause of China's low order rate, but it is still the global leader based on order backlog with 26.16 million CGTs, or 35 percent of the market total. South Korea is second with 21.28 million CGTs, or 29 percent, and Japan is third with 10.91 million CGTs, or 15 percent.

Ship deliveries from China dropped by 96 percent in Feburary compared to January. They dropped by 54 percent in South Korea and 39 percent in Japan.

The coronavirus is impacting South Korean exports, with exports of agricultural products dropping 13 percent in January. Outbound shipments of agricultural products reached $692 million in January, down from $786 million posted a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the state-run Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp and reported by Yonhap news agency.

China, South Korea's largest trading partner, now has over 80,000 reported cases of coronavirus. South Korea has over 8,000. "The COVID-19 outbreak has suspended logistics services in China. With people avoiding offline stores, the amount of inventory is expected to increase down the road as well, leading to an on-year decrease in exports of agricultural goods to China," said the Agro-Fisheries and & Food Trade Corp in a report.

South Korea's automobile exports have also dropped for seven months in a row. Exports dropped 25 percent in February as a result of coronavirus disruptions.