South Korea Trade Surplus Narrows Sharply
South Korea’s trade surplus decreased to USD 5.97 billion in September 2019 from USD 9.62 billion in the same month a year earlier, a preliminary data showed, as exports fell more than imports.
10/1/2019 10:50:05 AM
Exports tumbled 11.7 percent year-on-year to USD 44.70 billion in September, worse than market expectations of 11.2 percent drop and following an upwardly revised 11.8 percent fall in the prior month. This marked the tenth straight month of yearly decline in overseas sales, amid deteriorating external conditions, including the US-China trade tensions. Exports of semiconductors, petrochemicals decreased while those of automobiles, ships, and bio-health products increased.
Outbound shipments of petrochemicals dropped 17.6 percent to USD 3.7 billion. Also, exports of chips, accounted for nearly 20 percent of the country’s export, plunged 31.5 percent to USD 8.5 billion. In addition, sales of petroleum products went down 18.8 percent to USD 3.5 billion, mainly due to oil prices, the growing number of refineries in Asia, and more regular maintenance compared to a year earlier.
Meanwhile, sales of mobile devices went up 1.1 percent, the first on-year monthly growth in 14 months, boosted by an increase in demand from Southeast Asian countries. Outbound shipments of ships jumped 30.9 percent amid increasing demand for liquefied natural gas tankers. Automobile sales rose 4 percent on the back of growing demand for eco-friendly cars in markets such as the European Union.
Among major trade partners, exports to China, which account for about 20 percent of the country's total exports, plunged 21.8 percent. Also, exports to Japan fell 5.9 percent, amid dispute with Japan, and those to the US dropped 2.2 percent. Conversely, exports to Commonwealth of Independent States surged 41.3 percent.
Meantime, imports slumped 5.6 percent to USD 38.74 billion in September, compared to market consensus of a 3.0 percent fall and after a 4.2 percent drop in the preceding month.
Considering the first nine months of 2019, the trade surplus narrowed sharply to USD 28.80 billion from USD 54.43 billion in the corresponding period the prior year.