South Korea exports rise for eighth month, growth slows slightly

By Thomson Reuters May 31, 2024 | 7:44 PM

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s exports rose for an eighth straight month in May, led by robust chip sales though overall growth in shipments lagged market expectations, trade data showed on Saturday.

Overseas sales by Asia’s fourth-largest economy rose 11.7% year-on-year to $58.15 billion, a 22-month high, slowing from a gain of 13.8% in the prior month and undershooting a rise of 14.2% tipped in a Reuters survey of economists.

Exports of chips grew for a seventh consecutive month, rising 54.5%, along with gains in other IT products such as display panels, computers and wireless communication devices. Exports of automobiles rose 4.8%, while ships surged 108.4%.

By destination, exports to the United States rose for a 10th month, up 15.6%, while China-bound shipments extended gains for a third straight month by rising 7.6% to $11.4 billion, a 19-month high. It was the first time in four months that shipments to China had exceeded those to the United States.

“Exports are building a strong upward momentum,” said trade minister Ahn Duk-geun. “The government will provide all-out support for the upward trend to continue through the year-end.”

Imports fell 2.0% in May to $53.19 billion, after a 5.4% gain in April, which was the first increase in 14 months. The fall compared with economists’ forecast for a gain of 3.3%.

As a result, the country posted a trade surplus of $4.96 billion in May, widening from a surplus of $1.53 billion in April and marking the biggest since December 2020.

(Reporting by Jihoon Lee; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)