South Korea March exports up for sixth month on chip sales; miss estimates

By Thomson Reuters Mar 31, 2024 | 7:40 PM

SEOUL (Reuters) – Robust demand for South Korean chips helped Asia’s fourth-largest economy post export growth for a sixth consecutive month in March, albeit at a pace slightly slower than expected, data showed on Monday.

Exports rose 3.1% from the same period a year prior to $56.56 billion, missing a gain of 5.2% tipped in a Reuters poll of economists.

A month earlier, exports rose 4.8% on year, hinting at recovery in economic momentum even as consumer sentiment remained fragile due to higher produce prices.

Imports declined 12.3% in March from the same month a year earlier to $52.28 billion, deeper than a 8.1% fall seen in the poll but easing slightly from a 13.1% drop in February.

Overseas sales of chips grew for a fifth successive month, rising 35.7% and logging the best performance by value in two years, trade ministry data showed.

Increasing demand for artificial intelligence-related memory is driving semiconductor sales, as the world’s two biggest makers of memory chips – Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix – flagged improving chip demand for the year ahead.

(Reporting by Cynthia Kim; Editing by Christopher Cushing)