S.Korea exports rise on chip and petrochemicals

SEOUL • South Korea’s export growth accelerated in August at the fastest pace in three months, easing concerns that the trade fight between China and the US will sap momentum in Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

Exports rose 8.7% from a year earlier, the Trade Ministry said in a statement on Saturday. That compared to a 10.2% gain forecast by economists in a Bloomberg survey.

Imports jumped 9.2%, leaving a trade surplus of US$6.9 billion (RM28.36 billion), according to the statement.

Exports were mainly led by increased shipments of semiconductors and petroleum products, according to the Trade Ministry. Semiconductors, which dominate South Korea’s exports, rose 31.5% to a record US$11.5 billion, and petrochemical products shipments also hit a record US$4.35 billion.

Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol cited the US-China trade battle and slowing job creation as downside risks pressuring growth when he kept the central bank’s key interest rate unchanged at 1.5% last Friday.

Auto shipments turned around to a 0.5% increase as Korean automakers launched new SUVs in the US market.

Korea’s exports to China rose 20.8% in August from a year earlier, while those to the US and Japan increased 1.5% and 15%, according to the Trade Ministry.

Shipments gained as manufacturing businesses of major countries picked up and unit prices of key products increased due to rising oil prices. The Trade Ministry expects the two factors to continue — Bloomberg