In March, exports grew by 6.1 percent year-on-year to USD 51.6 billion, far above market expectations of a 0.4 percent increase and after a downwardly revised 3.9 percent growth in the prior month. It was the 17th straight month of increase in outbound shipments, the longest run of gains since 2011. Sales surged for: chips (44.2 percent) and personal computers (62.5 percent). In addition, exports of machinery increased by 6.1 percent, followed by those of steel products (6.3 percent) and petroleum products (0.3 percent). In contrast, sales fell for automobiles (-8.6 percent), auto parts (-11.1 percent) and flat displays (-16.5 percent).
Exports to China soared 16.6 percent and marking the eight straight month of growth. Also, sales the EU countries jumped by 24.2 percent. On the other hand, outbound shipments to the US fell by 1 percent, due to lower sales of petrochemical products and cars.
Imports went up by 5 percent to USD 44.7 billion, way below consensus of a 13.2 percent growth and following an upwardly revised 14.9 percent increase in a month earlier.
In February, the trade surplus was downwardly revised to USD 3.2 billion.
Considering the first three months of 2018, the trade surplus stood at USD 13.7 billion, down from USD 15.6 billion surplus in the same period 2017. Exports in the period grew by 10.3 percent to USD 145.7 billion, while imports rose 13.4 percent to USD 132 billion.
For 2018, exports are projected to expand by 4 percent amid strengthening local currency and potential geopolitical risks.
In 2017, outbound shipments grew by 15.8 percent compared to the same period the prior year to USD 573.9 billion.