Korea Trade Balance November 2021


Korea: Merchandise exports rise at a quicker pace in November

December 1, 2021

Merchandise exports shot up 32.0% year-on-year in November, following October’s 24.2% jump. In detail, ships, semiconductors and automobile exports all improved. The print marked a solid uptick, with daily average exports growth climbing to 26.6% in November, up from 24.1% in October. Meanwhile, merchandise imports jumped 43.6% on an annual basis in November (October: +37.7% yoy).

As a result, the merchandise trade balance improved from the previous month, recording a USD 3.1 billion surplus in November (October 2021: USD 1.8 billion surplus; November 2020: USD 5.8 billion surplus). Lastly, the trend deteriorated, with the 12-month trailing merchandise trade balance recording a USD 36.8 billion surplus in November, compared to the USD 39.5 billion surplus in October.

Commenting on the print, analysts at Goldman Sachs said:

“Exports recovered broadly across major product categories. […] Semiconductors also turned around to +11.0% from two months of declines, helped by new smartphone model launches by foreign tech companies and better pricing in foundry businesses, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) press release. Non-tech exports gained strongly as well, up 9.5% after staying almost flat in the past two months, driven by volatile ship exports (+128.6%) as well as machinery (+7.9%).”

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 November 2021 1

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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