Korea: Merchandise exports fall at a quicker pace in March
Merchandise exports sank 13.6% on an annual basis in March (February: -7.5% year on year). Meanwhile, merchandise imports plummeted 6.2% in annual terms in March (February: +3.8% yoy).
As a result, the merchandise trade balance improved from the previous month, recording a USD 4.6 billion shortfall in March (February 2023: USD 5.3 billion deficit; March 2022: USD 0.1 billion surplus). Lastly, the trend pointed down, with the 12-month trailing merchandise trade balance recording a USD 65.8 billion deficit in March, compared to the USD 61.0 billion deficit in February.
Semiconductor exports continued to slump year on year, driving the decline in March. This came as exports to China continued to decline despite the country reopening from Covid-19. More positively, automobile shipments rose sharply again due to the recent easing of supply bottlenecks.
ING’s Min Joo Kang said:
“Today’s data supports our view that sluggish exports are expected to delay the recovery and first quarter 2023 GDP should contract (-0.1% QoQ sa) for the second consecutive quarter.”