South Korea Trade Surplus Widens in January
South Korea’s trade surplus increased to USD 3.7 billion in January of 2018 from USD 2.6 billion in the same month of the preceding year, mainly driven by robust exports, preliminary data showed.
2/1/2018 2:56:16 AM
In January, exports jumped by 22.2 percent from a year earlier to USD 49.2 billion, much faster than a 8.9 percent growth in December 2017 and compared to market estimates of a 22.9 percent rise. It marked the 15th straight month of rise in outbound shipments, the longest run of gains since 2011, driven by higher sales of memory chips and petrochemical products.
Exports to China jumped by 24.5 percent from a year earlier, marking a sixth-month of increase; while those to ASEAN soared 37.2 percent on high orders for IT products. Also, sales to the US grew by 4.8 percent, reversing from a 7.7 percent fall in December 2017, supported by strong demand for general machinery and petrochemical products.
Imports rose by 20.9 percent to USD 45.5 billion, after a 13.6 percent gain in a month earlier while market expected a 19.5 percent increase.
In December 2017, the trade surplus was downwardly revised to USD 5.5 billion. The trade surplus with the US slumped by 67 percent from a year earlier to USD 320 million, as South Korea expanded purchases of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, natural gas and oil.
In 2017, outbound shipments grew by 15.8 percent compared to the same period the prior year to reach an all-time high of USD 573.9 billion.
For 2018, exports are projected to rise by 4 percent amid strengthening local currency and potential geopolitical risks.