Korea: Merchandise exports gain steam in February
Merchandise exports soared 20.6% annually in February, following January’s 15.2% jump. Meanwhile, merchandise imports shot up 25.2% in annual terms in February (January: +35.4% yoy).
As a result, the merchandise trade balance improved from the previous month, recording a USD 0.8 billion surplus in February (January 2022: USD 4.8 billion deficit; February 2021: USD 2.3 billion surplus). Lastly, the trend deteriorated, with the 12-month trailing merchandise trade balance recording a USD 19.6 billion surplus in February, compared to the USD 20.9 billion surplus in January.
On the outlook, Jeong Woo Park, economist at Nomura, commented:
“Export growth increased by more than expected in February, led by solid export growth of chips and oil-related products. However, owing to higher oil prices, import growth outpaced export growth, but the result was still a small trade surplus, as we expected. […] The elevated level of oil prices will likely narrow the trade surplus more than markets expect, which poses a downside risk to the Q1 GDP growth outlook, despite the rollout of an extra budget.”