South Korea exports rebound in November but miss forecasts

SEOUL (REUTERS) – Brisk global demand for South Korea’s memory chips helped fuel a 4 per cent gain in its exports in November, bouncing back from a decline in October to signal a rebound from the pandemic-induced slump this year.

The rate of growth was less than expected, however, as analysts had expected a 6.8 per cent jump from a year earlier.

Exports stood at US$45.81 billion, slightly above October’s US$44.90 billion, government data showed on Tuesday (Dec 1).

Sales of memory chips soared 16.4 per cent on-year, continuing stellar growth trend as the nation’s chipmakers including Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix post strong earnings.

The Bank of Korea on Thursday raised its gross domestic product forecasts for this year as it sees export growth to be better-than-expected to offset risks from a third wave of coronavirus infections.

“Strong sales of memory chips are leading the recovery but the pace of overall export growth could be somewhat slow until January due to the resurgence of the coronavirus across the US and Europe,” said Moon Jung Hui, an economist at KB Bank.

“We should see stronger pick-up in export growth from February or March, when virus concerns subside and vaccines get distributed.”

Of the nation’s 15 major export items, shipments of 10 items, including memory chips, mobile devices, computers and cars increased in November.

Imports declined 2.1 per cent to US$39.88 billion, also missing forecasts for a 0.2 per cent increase.

By destination, exports to China, South Korea’s biggest trading partner, gained 1.0 per cent on-year.

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