S.Korean exports mark 8th straight month of double-digit growth

FILE PHOTO: A truck carrying a shipping container travels past cranes at Pyeongtaek port in Pyeongtaek
FILE PHOTO: A truck carrying a shipping container travels past cranes at Pyeongtaek port in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, July 9, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

November 1, 2021

By Cynthia Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) -South Korean exports marked an eighth straight month of double-digit growth in October, propelled by post-lockdown recoveries in major markets, which pushed up demand for Korean chips and petrochemical products.

Exports surged 24.0% in October from a year earlier, faster than the 16.7% growth from September but missing the 27.0% growth seen in a Reuters poll.

Asia’s fourth-largest economy is widely considered a bellwether for global trade as it is the first to release export data among major trading economies.

Imports jumped at a faster 37.8% on-year, also accelerating from a 31.0% expansion in September.

The $55.83 billion of exports logged in September was a record in terms of monthly shipments, but the pace of growth will slow in the coming months with the post-lockdown recovery now past its peak, said Park Chong-hoon, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank of Korea.

“Export growth will slow to between 10% and 20% in the coming months, as the base effect fades,” Park said. “Having said that, demand for South Korean products will remain strong as we see in shipment volume.”

By destination, exports to all nine major trade partners including China, the United States and Europe, increased for a seventh month in a row, a statement from the trade ministry showed.

A breakdown by items showed exports of semiconductors soared 28.8% in October from a year earlier while petrochemical products surged 138.1%.

Exports of cars, however, declined 4.7% on-year, due to chip shortages and base effects from last year, the statement said.

(Reporting by Cynthia Kim; Editing by Sam Holmes)