Korea: Exports beat expectations in August
Merchandise exports decreased 8.3% annually in August, on the heels of July’s 16.4% plunge and exceeding market expectations of a 11.8% decline. Meanwhile, merchandise imports plummeted 22.8% over the same month last year in August (July: -25.4% yoy).
As a result, the merchandise trade balance deteriorated from the previous month, recording a USD 0.9 billion surplus in August (July 2023: USD 1.7 billion surplus; August 2022: USD 9.4 billion deficit). This marked the third consecutive surplus after 15 months of deficits. Lastly, the trend pointed up, with the 12-month trailing merchandise trade balance recording a USD 46.1 billion deficit in August, compared to the USD 56.4 billion deficit in July.
In month-on-month seasonally adjusted terms, exports rebounded 7.1% in August. Gains were led by chips, fuel and chemical exports, and automobile exports remained strong. Demand rebounded from the U.S., Japan and China. The data suggests that global trade may be beginning to slowly recover in the second half of 2023.