South Korea’s Exports Increase by Most in 10 Years in April

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South Korea’s exports last month rose the most in 10 years, boosted by an increase in the number of working days from a year earlier and reflecting a recovery from the effects of the pandemic.

Overseas shipments increased 41.1% from a year earlier, South Korea’s trade ministry said Saturday. That compared with economists’ forecasts for a 42% gain. Total semiconductor shipments climbed 30.2%, while automobiles jumped 73.4%.

While the effect of the calendar helped boost the figures last month, the rise in exports reinforces the view that global commerce is bouncing back quickly from the pandemic and is fueling a faster-than-expected economic expansion in South Korea.

The latest export data from South Korea consolidate the view that world trade is recovering faster that forecast. It’s “staging an impressive rebound,” led by goods trade, and will likely grow 10% this year, Oxford Economics said in a report this week. China, South Korea’s biggest trading partner, is a standout performer in the recovery and is being joined by most other regions, it said.

South Korea’s exports fell 25.6% in April last year, the worst performance during the pandemic. Average daily shipments increased 29.4% last month, which had two more working days than a year earlier.

South Korea’s Exports Increase by Most in 10 Years in April

Key Insight

  • As consumption slowly returns to life across the world with growing vaccinations and stimulus checks reaching buyers, products such as computers, televisions and smartphones have been rising in demand along with semiconductors.
  • Korea’s trade data serve as a key indicator of activity in the global economy because its exporters are deeply embedded in supply chains. South Korea restored the pre-pandemic size of its economy in the first quarter with a 1.6% expansion as exports broadened beyond semiconductors and fueled investment.
  • The value of exports may rise 18.1% this year and hit a record $605 billion in total if the momentum stays alive, according to a report from the Seoul-based Hyundai Research Institute. Separately, the government at the start of the year forecast chip exports would rise 10% this year.
  • Still, risks such as U.S.-China trade tensions and continuing coronavirus outbreaks weigh on the global economy and may dent the momentum in South Korean exports.

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  • Overall imports rose 33.9% from a year earlier, leaving a trade surplus of $0.39 billion.
  • Semiconductor equipment imports jumped 134.4% in April, while imports of display equipment rose 116.1%.
  • South Korea’s total trade amount in April surpassed $102 billion, with the country exporting $51.2 billion.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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