South Korea exports fall for fifth month

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

South Korea’s exports contracted less in April than in the previous month, but the fifth straight of month of shrinkage, while the memory chip shipments down 13.5 per cent.

April exports fell 2.0 per cent from a year earlier, government data showed on Wednesday. That was less than the 5.0 per cent decline forecast in a Reuters poll and March’s 8.2 per cent drop.

Policymakers worry that the trade dispute between Washington and Beijing could cause collateral damage for South Korea, especially as Asia’s fourth largest economy suffered an unexpected contraction in the first quarter on slumping exports and investment.

Gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter declined a seasonally adjusted 0.3 per cent from October-December, the worst contraction since a 3.3 per cent drop in late 2008, reports Reuters.

The trade ministry said slowing Chinese growth and weaker global demand for Korea’s memory chips resulted in further declines in exports in April.

It also said April exports would have expanded 0.8 per cent from a year earlier if not for the 13.5 per cent drop in memory chips.

Shipments to China, South Korea’s biggest trading partner, fell 4.5 per cent, making a sixth consecutive monthly fall.

However, US-bound exports rose for a seventh consecutive month, helped by a boost in demand for Korean cars and mobile phones.

Imports increased 2.4 per cent from a year earlier, compared with the poll prediction of 0.3 per cent. This led to a preliminary trade surplus of $4.12 billion, down from $5.2 billion in March.

South Korean markets are closed on Wednesday for a holiday.