SEOUL (Reuters) – A continued surge in demand for chips and bio-health products helped South Korea’s exports to gain for a third month in January, signalling a recovery in global demand in the year ahead.
Exports jumped 11.4% from a year earlier to $48.01 billion, after a 12.6% jump in December, government data showed on Monday, beating the 9.8% expansion forecast by 12 economists in a Reuters survey.
The trade picture of South Korea comes into a focus when it comes to global trade, as its monthly trade data is the first to be released among major exporting economies.
Sales of memory chips soared 21.7% year-on-year, continuing their stellar double-digit growth for a fifth month in a row as the nation’s chipmakers, including Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, posted strong earnings.
Exports of bio-health products soared 66.5% to continue its double-digit expansion for a 14th straight month. Of the nation’s 15 major export items, shipments of 12 items, including memory chips, mobile devices, bio-health products and cars increased in January.
Imports increased 3.1% to $44.05 billion, also beating forecasts for a 1.9% increase.
The trade surplus shrank to $3.96 billion from $6.77 billion in December. By destination, exports to China, South Korea’s biggest trading partner, gained 1% year-on-year.
(Reporting by Cynthia Kim; Editing by Stephen Coates and Gerry Doyle)