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[ClickPress, Thu May 01 2014] In welcome news for the South Korean economy and, by extension, the country's freight industry, South Korea reported the fastest increase in its industrial productivity in more than four years during December 2013, according to data from state-run Statistics Korea. This was attributed to robust production of memory chips and cars. A rise of 3.4% month-on-month (m-o-m) was observed in the production of the mining, manufacturing, gas and electricity sectors during the reported period.

There was a sharp increase of 7.3% m-o-m in the production of memory chips by firms like Samsung and SK Hynix, in addition to 5.7% growth in auto production by companies such as Hyundai in December. Driven by large government spending and enhanced global demand, the economy grew 2.8% in 2013 as compared to 2% in 2012. This is further predicted to touch 3.8% in 2014, according to the central bank (Channel News Asia).

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By mode, the maritime sector (specifically the Port of Busan) is set to enjoy the best 2014 in terms of tonnage throughput, although the Port of Incheon will not enjoy as fruitful a 12 months. Road freight will enjoy a steady 12 months in 2014 with tonnage throughput growth of 3.80%, while rail and air freight will lag slightly.

Headline Industry Data

* 2014 air freight tonnage throughput forecast to increase by 2.01%.
* 2014 rail freight tonnage throughput forecast to grow by 3.04%.
* 2014 road freight tonnage throughput forecast to rise by 3.80%.
* Total trade (imports plus exports) is set to grow by 3.75% in real terms in 2014.
* The Port of Busan will see gross tonnage growth increase by 7.27% in 2014.
* The Port of Incheon is forecast to see gross tonnage growth of 1.70% in 2014.

Key Industry Trends

Hanjin Shipping Sells Bulk Unit As BDI Rallies: Hanjin Shipping Company's decision to sell a majority stake in its bulk cargo division has resulted in the firm's share price rising by the highest rate in two years. We believe the move is well timed as dry bulk rates are at a three-year high, enabling the company to receive a high return on its sale, which will help contribute towards paying off its debts.

Incheon Expansion A Major Tailwind To Airport Growth: We believe that the US$2.5bn international terminal expansion at the Incheon International Airport (ICN) highlights the growing demand for air travel in Asia and the growth potential in Singapore's airport infrastructure sector.

Korean Air Completes Order For New Aircraft: Korean Air and Boeing finalised an order for five B747-8 Intercontinentals and six B777-300ER aircraft that was first arranged during the Paris Air Show in June 2013. The order will cost US$3.9bn and will also include one B787 Dreamliner as well. Korean Air is the world's only airline in the world to have ordered both passenger and freighter variants of the B747-8. Key Risks To Outlook

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