Year-on-year, sales grew by 13.7 percent to USD 48.88 billion, compared to a 20.2 percent rise in February while market expected a 13.0 percent gain. It was the fifth straight month of increase, mainly due to higher sales of petroleum products (+63.3 percent), flat screens (19.5 percent), machinery (17.6 percent), cosmetics (14.2 percent) and automobiles (4.1 percent). In contrast, outbound shipments dropped for wireless devices (-26.4 percent), reflecting the fallout from the recall of the Galaxy Note 7 phablet.
Exports to China rose 12.1 percent, marking the fifth consecutive month of growth. In contrast, outbound shipments to the US fell 5.3 percent, followed by those to the EU countries (-8.7 percent).
Imports jumped 26.9 percent to USD 42.32 billion, faster than a 23.3 percent rise in the prior month and above consensus of a 23.7 percent growth. It was the strongest increase since September 2011.
In February 2017, trade surplus was downwardly revised to USD 7.06 billion.
For 2017, exports are expected to rise 2.9 percent, supported by improving global demand, while imports are projected to grow at a faster 7.2 percent.
The trade balance has been in consistent surpluses since February 2012.