Korea Trade November 2018


Korea: Trade surplus narrows on strong imports in November, while export growth sags

December 1, 2018

Merchandise exports increased 4.5% in November—down from October’s exceptional 22.7% rise—to total USD 51.9 billion. The result was driven by growth in six out of the 10 major export groups, including semiconductors; general machinery; petrochemicals; petroleum products; steel; and ships. Merchandise imports increased 11.4% in November, down from October’s 28.1% rise, and totaled USD 46.8 billion.

The merchandise trade surplus narrowed to USD 5.1 billion in November from USD 6.5 billion in October, which is also down from the USD 7.7 billion surplus in November 2017. The 12-month moving sum of the trade balance narrowed to a USD 71.7 billion surplus in November from a USD 74.3 billion surplus in October.

Moderating global economic momentum should limit the external sector’s performance next year, while further escalations between the United States and China—despite the so-called truce made at the recent G20 meeting—also pose a risk to Korea’s exports due its location in the supply chain.

In 2019, FocusEconomics panelists expect merchandise exports and imports to expand 4.7% and 5.0% respectively, bringing the trade surplus to USD 105.1 billion. In 2020, exports and imports are expected to increase 2.8% and 2.7% respectively, resulting in a trade surplus of USD 108.9 billion.

Author:, Economist

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Korea Trade Chart

Korea Trade12m November 2018

Note: 12-month sum of trade balance in USD billion and annual average variation of the 12-month sum of exports and imports.
Source: Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) and FocusEconomics calculations.

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