Korea Trade Balance November 2020


Korea: Merchandise exports rebound in November

December 1, 2020

Merchandise exports ticked up 4.0% in annual terms in November (October: -3.8% yoy). Meanwhile, merchandise imports edged down 2.1% over the same month last year in November (October: -5.6% yoy).

As a result, the merchandise trade balance improved slightly from the previous month, recording a USD 5.9 billion surplus in November (October 2020: USD 5.8 billion surplus; November 2019: USD 3.3 billion surplus). Moreover, daily export growth rose to a 10-month high, on solid demand for electric vehicles and IT products. Lastly, the trend pointed up, with the 12-month trailing merchandise trade balance recording a USD 41.6 billion surplus in November, compared to the USD 39.0 billion surplus in October.

On the print, Jeong Woo Park, an economist at Nomura, commented:

“The positive growth in the November exports data reaffirms our view that Korea’s exports remain on track for a strong recovery. […] Despite ongoing concerns over the resurgence of the virus globally, we believe the global capex recovery has started to lift Korea’s exports”.

Turning to next year, sales abroad should gain steam on strong demand for IT products. Moreover, healthy demand from China will boost exports further. However, potential vaccination delays pose a downside risk to the outlook.

Our panelists see merchandise exports expanding 7.6% and imports rising 6.1% in 2021, bringing the trade surplus to USD 62.6 billion. In 2022, exports are expected to increase 5.8% and imports to rise 3.3%, resulting in a trade surplus of USD 78.5 billion.

Author:, Junior Economist

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Korea Trade Balance Chart

Korea Trade12m November 20 20

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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