South Korean exports grew at a softer pace in January than in the prior month, leading to a second consecutive month of trade deficit as persistent pandemic and supply-chain disruptions weighed on global trade.
Overseas shipments expanded 15.2% from a year earlier to $55.32 billion, following December’s 18.3% increase, according to preliminary data released by the trade ministry on Tuesday.
Exports missed the median forecast of seven economists polled by The Wall Street Journal for an 18.1% rise, but notched the 15th straight month of on-year growth, suggesting that the economy sustained its recovery momentum.
Exports of semiconductors, machinery and petrochemicals grew solidly in January, as shipments to nearly all major markets including the U.S. and China expanded.
Imports jumped 35.5% to $60.21 billion after a revised 37.1% surge in December, continuing to outpace exports on higher energy prices and creating a trade deficit of $4.89 billion in January.
The median forecast in the poll was for a 32.7% increase in imports and a $3.30 billion deficit for January.
For 2021, South Korea’s exports expanded 25.8%–the fastest annual pace of growth in 11 years.