Year-on-year, exports increased by 2.7 percent to USD 45.48 billion from USD 44.29 billion, following a revised 3.5 percent fall in October while markets expected a 1.2 percent gain. Sales rose the most for: machinery (+19.3 percent), followed by semiconductors (+11.6 percent, largely due to growing demand for mobile chips) and steel products (+10.8 percent). Outbound shipments of automobile also went up 1.5 percent, marking the first growth in 17 months and following partial strikes at major carmakers, including industry leader Hyundai Motor). In contrast, outbound shipments fell for shipbuilding (-36.8 percent) and wireless device, including mobile phones (-17.9 percent in the aftermath of the output halt of Samsung Electronics Galaxy Note 7).
Shipments to China, the largest market for South Korean products, grew for the first time in 17 months. Exports to the U.S., the country's second-largest trade partner, gained 3.9 percent and marking the first gain in six months.
Imports advanced at a faster 10.1 percent to USD 37.49 billion from USD 34.05 billion, after dropping by a revised 4.8 percent the preceding month and higher than market consensus of 2.9 percent rise.
In October 2016, the trade surplus was downwardly revised to USD 6.97 billion.
The trade balance has been in consistent surpluses since February 2012.