Korea Trade February 2017


Korea: Exports soar in February at fastest pace in five years

February 28, 2017

Exports increased 20.2% from the same month last year in February, totaling USD 43.2 billion. The result was well above the 14.7% rise expected by market analysts and represented the strongest increase since February 2012. The upturn was largely driven by higher volumes of semiconductors, flat displays, petrochemical products and cars sold abroad. Korean authorities expect the improved trend to continue in March. Nonetheless, policymakers remain wary of risks stemming from mounting tensions with key trading partners U.S. and China.

Imports reached USD 36.1 billion in February, a sizeable 23.9% year-on-year increase. This increase is the strongest since September 2011.

Korea’s trade surplus totaled USD 7.1 billion in February, which was larger than the USD 2.8 billion surplus in February 2016. The result prompted the trailing trade surplus to total USD 87.4 billion in February, which was smaller than the USD 87.1 billion in January.

This year, exports are expected to increase for the first time since 2014 on the back of improving global demand. However, protectionist policies from the incoming Trump government, a potential hard Brexit, and financial instability in China pose major risks to Korea’s external sector going forward. FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast panelists expect exports to increase 2.6% this year. For 2018, analysts expect export growth to decelerate and see shipments expanding 1.7%.

Author:, Economist

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Korea Trade Chart

Korea Trade12m February 2017

Note: 12-month sum of trade balance in USD billion and annual average variation of the 12-month sum of exports and imports.
Source: Korea Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) and FocusEconomics calculations.

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