Korea Trade January 2017


Korea: Exports surge in January at fastest pace in nearly five years

January 31, 2017

Korea’s exports increased 11.2% from the same month last year in January, totaling USD 40.3 billion. The result matched markets expectations and marked the strongest increase since February 2012. The positive news was widely welcomed by Korean policymakers who have been struggling with uncertainties related to political risks at home and the fallout from U.S. President Trump’s proposed trade policies.

Imports reached USD 37.5 billion in January, representing a massive 19.7% year-on-year increase. This increase is the strongest since February 2012.

Korea’s trade surplus totaled USD 3.2 billion in January, which was smaller than the previous month’s USD 6.8 billion surplus. January’s result prompted the trailing trade surplus to total USD 87.7 billion in 2016, which was smaller than the USD 89.4 billion in December.

Exports totaled USD 495 billion in 2016, which represented a 5.9% contraction from the level in 2015. This year, exports are expected to rebound and 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:, Senior Economist

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Korea Trade Chart

Korea Trade12m January 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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