Exports expected to grow for 7th month in a row in May: data

SEOUL-- South Korea's exports are expected to post its seventh straight month of growth in May fueled by strong overseas demand for computer chips and petrochemicals, official data showed Sunday.

Data by Korea Customs Service (KCS) showed outbound shipments totaling US$25.4 billion in the first 20 days of this month, up 3.4 percent compared to a year earlier.

"At the present rate, May will mark the seventh month of export growth," the customs office forecast.

Factoring in holidays this month, the findings showed Asia's fourth largest economy exporting about $2.04 billion worth of goods on average every day. This represents an 11.6 percent increase vis-a-vis the year before.

South Korea's exports have been growing since November, posting growth of 24.1 percent in April. In April exports reached $51 billion, the highest monthly tallied since $51.6 billion reported for Oct. 2014.

Growth was led by semiconductors, which surged 41 percent, with petrochemicals advancing a strong 35.2 percent.

On the negative side, shipments of car parts and mobile communication equipment backtracked 20.3 percent and 39.9 percent from a year earlier.

By country exports to Vietnam and Japan moved up 48.3 percent and 9.1 percent, respectively. Shipments to China, South Korea largest trading partner gained 2 percent.

Outbound shipments to the United States were down 11.7 percent.

The KCS said as of Saturday, imports jumped 11.7 percent to $24.8 billion, with the country's trade surplus so far standing at $690 million.

Related to solid gains in exports the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) claimed growth reflected an ongoing trend and not a short-lived rebound.

The trade organization said recent growth reflected a rise in overall volume and prices. It pointed out that while exports contracted 8 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively, in 2015 and 2016, there has been a definite turnaround since late last year.

It said while higher crude prices helped petrochemicals, positive growth has been reported in the information technology and steel sectors.

"Rise in exports follows the global economic rebound," KITA pointed out.

The association said that the new government needs to capitalize on the changes taking place by easing restrictions that can fuel investment and proactively respond to trade-related challenges facing the country by making better use of free trade pacts.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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