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South Korea's Semiconductor Industry Surges, Signaling Economic Revival and Global Tech Sector Strength

Updated: Dec 29, 2023

South Korea's semiconductor industry has experienced significant growth in both production and shipments, signaling a resurgence in technology momentum with positive implications for the country's economic outlook and the global tech sector.

South Korea's Semiconductor Industry Surges, Signaling Economic Revival and Global Tech Sector Strength

Data from the national statistical office reveals a remarkable 42% year-on-year increase in chip production in November, the highest since early 2017. Shipments also surged by 80%, marking the most substantial gain since late 2002. Inventories expanded by 36%, the smallest rise since February.

This robust performance in South Korea's crucial semiconductor sector suggests a rebound from a prolonged slump that had impacted the nation's economy for over a year. The positive indicators are particularly favorable for major chip manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, two of South Korea's leading companies. Additionally, the data signals a potential recovery in global demand for the tech sector.

South Korea's economy, heavily reliant on trade, faced challenges in 2023, including subdued demand for semiconductors. The central bank projects a modest 1.4% expansion for the year, down from 2.6% in the previous year, influenced by higher interest rates, an economic slowdown in China, and geopolitical risks.


The recent surge in chip production and the strength of semiconductor manufacturers have contributed to a better-than-expected 5.3% expansion in the country's industrial output in November. The Finance Ministry noted that demand for high-performance semiconductors has been particularly beneficial for the chip and machinery industries.

Looking ahead, the Bank of Korea anticipates a 2.2% expansion in the economy next year, driven by further strength in exports, which returned to growth in October. The recovery in memory-chip prices, coupled with increasing demand for emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, is contributing to this positive outlook.

Shannon Nicoll, Associate Economist at Moody's Analytics, commented, "We expect industrial production to pick up as global appetites for South Korean goods grow and as the local headwinds of high inflation and interest rates ease."

Despite the optimistic outlook, potential risks for the South Korean economy include the likelihood of global economic growth slowing in the coming year, ongoing efforts by China to stimulate its economy, and the possibility of US consumers feeling the impact of prolonged tightness in interest rates amid global trade challenges and the threat of protectionism.



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