South Korea records slowest April export growth in 14 months, trade deficit widens


Cranes and shipping containers are seen at Pyeongtaek Port in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, July 9, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

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SEOUL, May 1 (Reuters) – South Korea’s exports grew at their slowest pace in 14 months in April as the trade deficit widened as shipments to China fell and rising energy and commodity prices pushed up the country’s imports.

Exports rose 12.6% from a year earlier to $57.69 billion, Commerce Department data showed on Sunday, the slowest since February 2021. It was below growth forecasts for 14.5% in a Reuters poll and slower than the 18.2% rise in March. Read more

South Korea’s monthly trade data, the first to be released among major exporting economies, is seen as an indicator of global trade.

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Exports to China, South Korea’s biggest trading partner, have been hit by Beijing’s zero coronavirus policies, with lockdowns hitting industrial production and disrupting supply chains. Read more

Shipments to China fell by 3.4%, while those to the United States increased by 26.4% and to the European Union by 7.4%.

Exports of semiconductors, the country’s main foreign exchange earner, soared 15.8%, while petrochemicals rose 6.8%. Outbound petroleum shipments jumped 68.8% and steel products rose 21.1%. Imports rose 18.6% to $60.35 billion, driven by combined imports of $14.81 billion of crude oil, gas and coal.

That gave South Korea a trade deficit of $2.66 billion, larger than March’s deficit of $115 million.

The slowdown in exports comes as the country battles runaway inflation. Last month, the Bank of Korea raised its benchmark rate to the highest since August 2019 in a surprise move, expressing concerns that the economy could miss the bank’s 3% growth forecast in February for This year. Read more

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Reporting by Joori Roh; Editing by Chris Reese and William Mallard

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