(Bloomberg) -- South Korea’s early trade data show exports are likely to maintain their growth momentum this month, continuing their rebound from a year-long slump and helping brighten the outlook for global commerce.
Exports increased 2.2% on average in the first 20 days of November compared with a year earlier, the customs office said Tuesday. Imports fell 6.2%, resulting in a trade shortfall of $1.4 billion.
Korea is a key global exporter, supplying a wide range of goods and components from semiconductors and smartphones to ships and cars to markets around the world. As a result, the country’s exports serve as a useful indicator of the health of the global economy.
Last month Korean exports rose for the first time since late last year, in a positive sign for the nation’s growth outlook and for global trade, boosting confidence among policymakers that the Korean economy would expand 1.4% in 2023.
Key to the rebound has been the bottoming-out of the price for semiconductors that are crucial to the country’s economy. Chip sales rose 2.4%, continuing their recovery, while automobile exports jumped 20.1%. Wireless communications products such as smartphones edged up 0.2% in shipments.
India and the US helped lead the rebound among larger markets, while Korean shipments to China still struggled with a decline of 2.4%. Still, exports to Hong Kong increased 28.7% from a year earlier.
Headwinds for Korean exports include weakening forecasts for global economic growth next year, and central banks keeping their interest rates high as they continue their fight against inflation.
(Updates with charts and more details)
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