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Korea Trade December 2023

Korea: Merchandise exports beat expectations again in December

Merchandise exports climbed 5.0% year-on-year in December, on the heels of November’s 7.4% increase. As in November, the rise was stronger than had been expected by the market, and was largely on the back of strong shipments of semiconductors. Meanwhile, merchandise imports plummeted 10.8% on an annual basis in December (November: -11.6% yoy).

As a result, the merchandise trade balance improved from the previous month, recording a USD 4.5 billion surplus in December (November 2023: USD 3.6 billion surplus; December 2022: USD 4.8 billion deficit). Lastly, the trend improved, with the 12-month trailing merchandise trade balance recording a USD 10.2 billion deficit in December, compared to the USD 19.4 billion deficit in November.

ING’s Min Joo Kang commented on the implications for Q4’s GDP reading, due for 25 January:

“Combined with AI technology-driven semiconductor recovery and falling commodity prices, terms of trade will likely improve and the net export contribution to GDP should remain positive in the fourth quarter of 2023.”

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