Year-on-year, exports dropped by 2.0 percent to USD 48.86 billion April, following an 8.2 percent fall in March, while markets expected a 5.0 percent decrease. The decline in April's exports was partially due to a fall in cost of semiconductors and petrochemicals; slowing Chinese economy; ongoing trade dispute between the US and China and stagnant world trade. Sales of semiconductors fell 13.5 percent, mostly due to falling prices of memory chips, prolonged inventory adjustments in data centers, and sluggish demand for smartphones. Additionally, sales of petrochemicals went down 5.7 percent. Meanwhile, sales increased for general machinery (0.3 percent) and automoviles (5.8 percent) due to newly launched models and growing popularity of sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and eco-friendly cars. Among trading partners, exports fell to China (-4.5 percent) and the ASEAN (-1.0 percent) while those to the US (3.9 percent) and Central and South America (39.7 percent) increased.
Imports went up 2.4 percent to USD 44.74 billion, after a 6.7 percent decline in the previous month and above market forecasts of a 0.3 percent gain. Imports rose mainly driven by higher purchases of crude oil (11.1 percent); liquefied natural gas (4.3 percent); gasoline vehicles (34.4 percent); and leather bags (22.9 percent).
Considering the first four months of 2019, the trade surplus narrowed to USD 13.44 billion from USD 18.79 billion in the corresponding period the prior year.