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Korea Trade April 2024

Korea: Merchandise exports gain steam in April

Merchandise exports soared 13.8% annually in April (March: +3.1% year-on-year). Moreover, the daily average export value—which accounts for the number of working days—increased 11.3%, maintaining double-digit growth for the third consecutive month. The export improvement was broad based, with IT a particular strong point amid surging global demand for AI applications. Meanwhile, merchandise imports expanded 5.3% over the same month last year in April (March: -12.3% yoy), marking the strongest reading since October 2022.

As a result, the merchandise trade balance deteriorated from the previous month, recording a USD 1.5 billion surplus in April (March 2024: USD 4.3 billion surplus; April 2023: USD 2.5 billion deficit). Lastly, the trend improved, with the 12-month trailing merchandise trade balance recording a USD 25.5 billion surplus in April, compared to the USD 21.5 billion surplus in March.

On the near-term outlook, Nomura analysts said:

“We expect export growth to be sustained at a double-digit pace in the coming months, as the second quarter tends to show seasonally strong demand for tech products. At the same time, with a recovery in demand from China and ASEAN for oil-related products, we expect export growth to become more broad-based in the coming months.”

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