SEOUL :South Korea’s exports fell for a seventh straight month in April for their longest losing streak in three years, driven by an extended slump in sales to China and suggesting persistent pressure on the economy from frail global demand.
The downturn comes despite the reopening of the Chinese economy – a major market for South Korean goods and especially for chips – in December, and raises the challenge for policymakers as they push for a robust post-COVID revival.
Overseas sales by Asia’s fourth-largest economy fell 14.2 per cent year-on-year to $49.62 billion in April, trade ministry data showed on Monday, after a 13.6 per cent fall in February and compared with a 13.5 per cent drop tipped in a Reuters survey.
It was the worst decline in three months, and reinforced the recent signs of a domestic economy struggling to fire on all cylinders in the wake of slowing global growth.
A breakdown of the data showed exports to China tumbled 26.5 per cent for their 11th consecutive month of declines, while those to the United States fell 4.4 per cent in their first shrinking month in three. Shipments to the European Union rose 9.9 per cent.
By product, semiconductor exports dived 41.0 per cent, extending their losses to the ninth straight month. Petroleum products fell 27.3 per cent, but automobiles jumped 40.3 per cent.
The trade ministry said in a statement that the fall was due to a delay in global economic recovery and weakness in the semiconductor industry, while there were also fewer working days and high base effects.
Imports in April fell 13.3 per cent to $52.23 billion following a 6.4 per cent fall in March, also faster than a 10.6 per cent decline expected by economists. It was the biggest drop since August 2020.
As a result, the country posted a trade deficit of $2.62 billion in April, the 14th month in a row that the export-reliant economy suffered a monthly trade deficit, though it was the smallest since June.