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Korea Trade November 2023

Korea: Merchandise exports beat expectations in November

Merchandise exports climbed 7.8% in annual terms in November, following October’s 5.1% increase. The result, which was the best since July 2022, beat market expectations and marked the second consecutive month of growth after 12 consecutive months of contraction. Notably, semiconductor shipments rose for the first time in 16 months. Meanwhile, merchandise imports plunged 11.6% in annual terms in November (October: -9.7% yoy).

As a result, the merchandise trade balance improved from the previous month, recording a USD 3.8 billion surplus in November (October 2023: USD 1.6 billion surplus; November 2022: USD 7.1 billion deficit). Lastly, the trend pointed up, with the 12-month trailing merchandise trade balance recording a USD 19.0 billion deficit in November, compared to a USD 29.9 billion deficit in October.

Analysts at Nomura said:

“November’s export data support our view that export growth will return to a high single- to double-digit pace in [the] coming months, as rising chip prices likely amplify the chip-cycle upturn amid a pick-up in demand for tech products.”

Analysts at ING commented:

“We think that exports will continue to improve, becoming a major driver for growth for the next couple of quarters […]. One concern is that future export outcomes could be volatile, as the export recovery will be fairly narrowly focused on semiconductors.”

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