Korea: Exports fall in December
Merchandise exports fell 1.2% year-on-year in December—contrasting November’s revised 4.1% increase (previously reported: +4.5% year-on-year)—to total USD 48.5 billion. The decrease in December was partly due to sluggish global trade growth and lower oil prices. Merchandise imports increased 0.9% in December—down from November’s revised 11.5% (previously reported: +11.4% year-on-year)—and totaled USD 43.9 billion.
The merchandise trade surplus narrowed to USD 4.6 billion in December from USD 5.5 billion in the same month a year earlier (November: USD 4.9 billion surplus). The 12-month moving sum of the trade balance narrowed to a USD 70.5 billion surplus in December from a USD 71.4 billion surplus in November.
Moderating global economic momentum should limit the external sector’s performance this year, while further escalations between the United States and China also pose a risk to Korea’s exports due its location in the supply chain. On the other hand, Korea’s revised trade deal with the U.S. came into force on 1 January, which should support a vital bilateral trade channel.