South Korea exports expand for 3rd month in January, beating forecasts

Sales of memory chips soared as the nation's chipmakers, including Samsung Electronics, posted strong earnings.
Sales of memory chips soared as the nation's chipmakers, including Samsung Electronics, posted strong earnings.PHOTO: AFP

SEOUL] (REUTERS) - A continued surge in demand for chips and bio-health products helped South Korea's exports gain for a third month in January, signalling a recovery in global demand in the year ahead.

Exports jumped 11.4 per cent from a year earlier to US$48.01 billion (S$63.8 billion), after a 12.6 per cent jump in December, government data showed on Monday, beating the 9.8 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent to US$44.05 billion, also beating forecasts for a 1.9 per cent increase.

The trade surplus shrank to US$3.96 billion from US$6.77 billion in December.

By destination, exports to China, South Korea's biggest trading partner, gained 1 per cent year-on-year.