Korea Trade April 2019


Korea: Export contraction softens in April

May 1, 2019

Merchandise exports fell 2.0% over the same month last year in April to a total of USD 48.9 billion, following the 8.2% contraction logged in March (USD 47.1 billion). Merchandise imports on the other hand rebounded 2.4% in April from a 6.7% contraction in March and totaled USD 44.7 billion (March: USD 41.9 billion). External demand for South Korean goods has been particularly dragged on by slowing Chinese growth, weaker global trade amid the persistent U.S.-China trade rift, and lower prices for semiconductors and petrochemicals.

The merchandise trade surplus narrowed in April to USD 4.1 billion from a USD 6.2 billion surplus in the same month a year prior (March: USD 5.2 billion surplus). The 12-month moving sum of the trade balance also narrowed to a USD 64.3 billion surplus in April from the USD 66.3 billion surplus registered in March.

Commenting on the implications of April’s print analysts at Nomura noted:

“Although better-than-expected April data showed slightly positive signs, their underlying trend [will] likely remain weak, and we believe intensifying economic headwinds should weigh on the economy and inflation for 2019.”

In 2019, FocusEconomics panelists expect merchandise exports to expand 2.9% and imports to contract 0.1%, bringing the trade surplus to USD 87.5 billion. In 2020, exports and imports are expected to increase 3.8% and 3.3% respectively, resulting in a trade surplus of USD 93.4 billion.

Author:, Economist

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Korea Trade Chart

Korea Trade12m April 2019

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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