South Korean exports struggle but demands from China bring hopes


SEOUL- South Korean exports recorded weak data in the first 20 days of December but strong demands from China and firm chip prices indicated that year-long loss may come to conclusion soon.

                Exports of Asia’s fourth biggest economy declined 2.0% from December 1 to 20, according to customs records disclosed on Monday. Such was the slowest loss in a year and way better than an atrocious 9.6% decline of 20 day period in November.

                Daily average exports value, a helpful measure of a near-term trend following calendar adjustments, sunk 5.1% within December 1-20 bracket, an improved record from a 9.6% loss in Nov 1-20 period and the most laudable outcome in nine months.  

                “Given the increase in exports to China and the slower pace of contraction in chip sales, today’s figure show exports are on the path of recovery,” said Park Sang-hyun, chief economist at Hi Investment & Securities.

                China-bound shipments soared 5.3% during the 20-day timeframe. South Korea’s biggest export market acquired more than a quarter of its peers’ overall sales abroad.

                Monday’s data came in congruence with majority of analysts’ expectations as South Korean exports would retreat to yearly growth from January, ending consecutive year-on-year inactivity, Park said.

                Imports sunk down to 0.5% during the 20-day period, much better than the 11.2% loss in November’s first twenty days. The trade surplus was reduced from $0.55 billion to $0.33 billion during the said bracket.

                Overall semiconductor sales, the country’s leading export, shed 16.7% in December’s first twenty days compared to records a year ago, brought by frail data in global prices despite strong volume demand.

                South Korea is yet to release trade figures for December on January 1, 2020.

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