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Korea Trade May 2024

Korea: Merchandise exports increase at a milder rate in May

Merchandise exports shot up 11.7% year-on-year in May (April: +13.8% year-on-year), while the daily average export value—which accounts for the number of working days—rose by a similar amount. Stronger IT exports—particularly semiconductors, which rose by more than half—were behind the robust exports data. Meanwhile, merchandise imports contracted 2.0% over the same month last year in May (April: +5.3% yoy).

As a result, the merchandise trade balance improved from the previous month, recording a USD 5.0 billion surplus in May (April 2024: USD 1.5 billion surplus; May 2023: USD 2.2 billion deficit). Lastly, the trend pointed up, with the 12-month trailing merchandise trade balance recording a USD 32.7 billion surplus in May, compared to the USD 25.5 billion surplus in April.

Our Consensus is for goods exports to rebound over this year as a whole following last year’s slump, linked to the surge in global demand for AI applications, and risks to our current 2024 exports growth forecast appear skewed to the upside in light of the strong data so far this year.

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