South Korea’s trade surplus narrowed to USD 6.6 billion in April of 2018 from USD 12.9 billion in the same month of the preceding year, as exports fell for the first time in 18 months and imports rose less than expected, preliminary data showed.
Exports dropped 1.5 percent from a year earlier to USD 50.1 billion in April, missing market expectations of a 4.1 percent increase and following a 6.1 percent growth in the previous month. The fall marked the first month of decline in exports since October 2016, due to a high base of comparison in April 2017 and softer global demand. Sales decreased for: ships (-75 percent), wireless communication equipment (- 40.7 percent), flat displays (-16.2 percent), automobiles (-8.5 percent), and steel products (-7.4 percent). In contrast, sales increased for : chips (37 percent), machinery (13.1 percent), and petrochemical goods (11.7 percent).
Among major trading partners, exports to the United States went down 1.8 percent, the third straight month of decline, as sales of cars and smartphones fell. Also, exports to the EU slumped 21.2 percent and those to Vietnam dropped 17.6 percent. On the other hand, outbond shipments to China surged 23 percent and marked 18 consecutive months of expansion, driven by memory chips, petrochemical products and machinery.
Meanwhile, imports jumped 14.5 percent to USD 43.4 billion, below market consensus of a 18.4 percent growth but beating an upwardly revised 5.2 percent increase in a month earlier.
Considering the first four months of the year, the trade surplus narrowed to USD 19.9 billion from USD 28.5 billion surplus in the same period 2017. Imports surged 13.8 percent to USD 175.6 billion and exports grew at a slower 6.9 percent to USD 195.5 billion.
For 2018, exports are expected to expand 4 percent amid strengthening local currency and potential geopolitical risks.
5/1/2018 8:11:18 AM