WASHINGTON -- South Korean semiconductor exports are expected to hit a record $23.5 billion this year, surpassing the old mark of $22.1 billion in 1995, according to Korean government estimates. The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy in Seoul said chip exports from the country in 1999 totaled $20.3 billion, after falling to $17 billion in 1998 due to the precipitous decline in global DRAM prices.
The agency estimated that semiconductor imports into Korea last year were $16 billion, up 33% over the previous year. Officials attributed the sharp import rise to heavy demand for microprocessors and telecommunication chips. Imports of flash memory and SDRAMs almost tripled to $800 million, as domestically produced chips could not meet demand in the country.