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.