Korea Trade Balance October 2021


Korea: Merchandise export growth accelerates in October

November 1, 2021

Merchandise exports jumped 24.0% in annual terms in October (September: +16.7% yoy). Meanwhile, merchandise imports shot up 37.8% in annual terms in October (September: +31.0% yoy). The uptick benefited from a month with more working days, as September incorporated the Chuseok holiday. That said, underlying momentum weakened as daily export growth lost steam in October. Notably, auto sales abroad fell again in October, while display and wireless communication devices exports grew at softer rates. On the upside, ship sales rebounded.

As a result, the merchandise trade surplus narrowed to USD 1.7 billion in October (September 2021: USD 4.2 billion surplus; October 2020: USD 5.7 billion surplus). Lastly, the trend pointed down, with the 12-month trailing merchandise trade balance recording a USD 39.5 billion surplus in October, compared to the USD 43.5 billion surplus in September.

On the outlook, Jeong Woo Park, economist at Nomura, commented:

“Despite China’s?? rapid growth deceleration, Korea’s export growth held up well, benefiting from price effects (surging oil prices) and structural changes (solid chip demand and new export products). However, this diversified structure has masked the weaker underlying trends in export sectors. Indeed, export volumes remained stagnant relative to the previous cycles, which suggests export growth could drop into single-digits earlier than expected, or into negative territory, once price effects disappear.“

Our panelists see merchandise exports expanding 5.9% and imports rising 6.2% in 2022, bringing the trade surplus to USD 46.0 billion. In 2023, exports are expected to increase 7.0%.

Author:, Junior Economist

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Korea Trade Balance Chart

Korea Trade12m October 2021 0

Note: 12-month sum of trade balance in USD billion and annual average variation of the 12-month sum of exports and imports.
Source: Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) and FocusEconomics calculations.

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