Exports of advanced memory chips by South Korean companies have fallen to record lows since 2019, suggesting stagnant demand for technologies critical to global economic growth.
It is known that Koreans Samsung Electronics and SK hynix together control about two-thirds of the global memory module market. Enterprise memory export revenue has been growing steadily since 2019, peaking in the second half of 2021. Now it looks like it’s time for a recession.
Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix DRAM shipments in August fell 24.7% year-on-year after falling 7% in the previous month, South Korea’s Commerce Ministry announced today. Previously, the ministry only reported on the growth of the target for 26 consecutive months.
DRAM accounts for nearly half of Korea’s memory chip exports. Korea’s technology exports in general have also suffered, accounting for a third of all exports, according to the Commerce Ministry. In August, it fell 4.6% year-on-year. In addition to memory, shipments of smartphones, displays and computers also suffered.
The global semiconductor industry is cooling off after years of peak demand for tablets and laptops amid the pandemic. Earlier this month, the Semiconductor Industry Association reported that global chip sales rose just 7.3% in July from July last year, marking the seventh month of slow market growth. Additionally, according to Susquehanna Financial Group, semiconductor lead times slowed in August, an indirect sign of lower demand.
Another reason for the market slowdown is slowing economic growth in China, which has suffered from strict anti-pandemic restrictions. Tech exports to China fell 14.4% in August, the ministry said, citing the relatively recent lockdowns in Shanghai as the main reason.