South Korea’s exports shrink for 11th straight month

South Korea’s exports shrank on year for an 11th consecutive month in August amid sluggish global demand, though the pace of decline moderated significantly.

Exports fell 8.4% from a year earlier to $51.87 billion, following a revised 16.4% drop in July, according to preliminary data released by the country’s trade ministry on Friday. The median market forecast had been for an 11.5% contraction in August.

Imports dropped 22.8% from a year earlier to $51.00 billion in August, resulting in a trade surplus of $0.87 billion.

Despite the firmer-than-expected exports, data from South Korea, a bellwether for the health of global trade, showed that it is still suffering from a slow recovery in world commerce activity.

Exports to China, the country’s largest trade partner, fell 20% on year in August, the data showed, as the world’s second-largest economy undergoes a slowdown amid a prolonged slump in its real-estate market.

Shipments of semiconductors and petroleum products fell 21% and 35%, respectively, from a year earlier, the trade data showed. Those of cars and ships gained 29% and 35%, respectively.

Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho told a recent parliament hearing that exports are expected to rebound from October, with the trade balance likely to remain positive in September.

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