South Korea’s export growth accelerated last month at the fastest pace in three months, easing concerns that the trade fight between China and the US would sap momentum in Asia’s fourth-largest economy.
Exports rose 8.7 percent from a year earlier, the South Korean Ministry of Trade said in a statement yesterday.
That compared with a 10.2 percent gain forecast by economists in a Bloomberg survey.
Imports jumped 9.2 percent, leaving a trade surplus of US$6.9 billion, the statement said.
Exports were mainly led by increased shipments of semiconductors and petroleum products, it said.
Semiconductors, which dominate South Korea’s exports, rose 31.5 percent to a record US$11.5 billion, while petrochemical products shipments also hit a record US$4.35 billion.
South Korea releases its trade data earlier than most other major economies and is considered as a bellwether for global demand.
Strong demand for South Korean products might ease concerns over growth momentum in the export-dependent nation amid an escalating trade fight between the US and China — its two biggest trading partners.
Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol cited the US-China trade battle and slowing job creation as downside risks pressuring growth when he kept the central bank’s key interest rate unchanged at 1.5 percent on Friday.
Auto shipments turned around to a 0.5 percent increase as South Korean automakers launched new sports utility vehicles in the US market.
South Korea’s exports to China last month rose 20.8 percent from a year earlier, while those to the US and Japan increased 1.5 percent and 15 percent respectively, ministry data showed.
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