In October, imports to South Korea jumped 27.9 percent year-on-year to USD 48.22 billion in October of 2018, after an upwardly revised 1.6 percent fall in the previous month and well above market expectations of 19 percent increase.
Exports surged 22.7 percent year-on-year to USD 54.97 billion in October, recovering from a 8.2 percent fall in the previous month. The sharp rebound was largely attributable to the traditional three-day Chuseok holidays falling in September this year but in October last year. Sales of petroleum goods soared 42.9 percent to a record high of USD 4.49 billion, boosted by strong demand and rising oil prices. Also, exports of general machinery soared 51.7 percent to a record-high of USD 4.99 billion, due to large infrastructure projects in emerging economies. In addition, outbound shipments of semiconductors jumped 22.2 percent to USD 11.59 billion. On the other hand, sales of displays fell 7.9 percent to USD 2.29 billion, affected by falling prices of liquid crystal display panels amid weak demand for TVs. Also, exports of wireless communication equipment was 18.2 percent lower to USD 1.66 billion, due to increased production in overseas factories and falling demand for new smartphones.
Among major trading partners, exports to China, South Korea's top trading partner, rose 17.7 percent on-year on the back of memory chips, petrochemicals and machinery products. Also, sales to the US surged 47.8 percent, driven by strong demand for new SUVs, general machinery and wireless communication equipment.
Considering the first ten months of 2018, the trade surplus narrowed sharply to USD 61.17 billion from USD 82.01 billion in the corresponding period the prior year.