S.Korea’s export posts single-digit fall in 4 months

South Korea’s export posted a single-digit fall in four months, showing signs of recovery from an economic fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak across the world, a government report showed Saturday.

Export, which accounts for about half of the export-driven economy, reached 42.83 billion U.S. dollars in July, down 7.0 percent from a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The outbound shipment shed in single figures in four months, after tumbling 25.5 percent in April, 23.6 percent in May and 10.9 percent in June respectively.

The daily average export slipped 7.0 percent over the year to 1.71 billion dollars in July, topping 1.7 billion dollars in four months.

Import retreated 11.9 percent from a year earlier to 38.56 billion dollars in July, sending the trade surplus to 4.27 billion dollars. The trade balance stayed in black for the third consecutive month.

The trade surplus increased from 390 million dollars in May to 3.63 billion dollars in June and 4.27 billion dollars in July.

The improved export came as global demand partially recovered since May amid the reopening of businesses after shutdowns to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in major economies.

South Korea’s industrial output grew 4.2 percent in June from a month ago, marking the first rebound in six months. Both private consumption and facility investment expanded in the month.

Real gross domestic product (GDP) slumped 3.3 percent in the second quarter from the previous quarter, but it was better than the GDP falls in major economies, including the United States, Germany and France.

The country’s finance ministry forecast that the real GDP could turn around during the third quarter thanks to fiscal stimulus packages and accommodative monetary policy as well as the global economic recovery.

Export to China, South Korea’s biggest trading partner, gained 2.5 percent in July from a year earlier, after expanding 6.9 percent in June. Shipment to the United States advanced 7.7 percent last month.

It marked the first time in 21 months since October 2018 that export to both China and the United States increased on a yearly basis. Shipment to China and the United States takes up about 40 percent of South Korea’s total export.

Shipment to the European Union (EU) reduced 11.1 percent in July from a year earlier, but it was down from declines of 22.6 percent in May and 17.0 percent in June respectively.

Export to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Japan and Latin America diminished in double figures last month amid the lingering effect from the COVID-19 pandemic.

By item, semiconductor export rose 5.6 percent thanks to solid demand for chips used for servers and computers.

Amid the fear of the virus infection, people preferred to work at home and attend online classes, resulting in strong demand for computers and higher data transmission.

Computer shipment jumped 77.1 percent last month, keeping an upward trend for the 10th consecutive month.

Export of telecommunication devices, such as smartphone, made the first rebound in four months, and consumer electronics shipment turned around in five months.

Automotive export dipped 4.2 percent in July from a year earlier, but it was sharply slower than a 54 percent drop tallied in May. It was attributable to recovering demand from Europe and the United States.

Auto parts shipment plunged 27.7 percent as global automakers adjusted production to tackle increased inventory, and export for general machinery, steel products and textiles all shrank in double digits.

Export for oil products and petrochemicals dived 43.2 percent and 21.0 percent each amid the global supply glut and lower product price.