South Korea’s exports rose 8.2 percent in the month to date from the same period of last year, sharply up from a 0.7 percent gain for the combined January-February period, customs data showed.
The Korea Customs Service provided no additional details but the figures support the U.S. policymakers’ view that softer economic indicators there reflect temporary effects from prolonged bad weather, and demand is recovering.
The news also backs the South Korean government’s confidence
that the economy was sustaining a robust recovery that started late last year from a two-year slump, analysts said.
“It appears that the weak demand from the U.S. in the first two months was due to the cold wave that hit the country, and that demand is recovering in March,” said Kim Jong-su, economist at Taurus Investment and Securities.
Overseas shipments for the March 1-20 period were $30.059 billion, the customs agency said on its website (www.customs.go.kr),
while imports during the period rose by 2 percent in annual terms to $29.883 billion - a trade surplus of $176 million.
China is South Korea’s largest export market, taking in nearly a quarter of its total overseas sales, followed by the United States taking about 10 percent.
The customs data is a fairly a rough gauge of export performance as a significant portion of local manufacturers’ overseas shipments is made toward the end of each month.
Tepid external demand in the first two months of the year had raised concerns that South Korea’s economic growth could slow during the current quarter after a 0.9 percent rise seen during the October-December period.
The Bank of Korea forecasts South Korea’s economic growth to accelerate to 3.8 percent this year from an estimated 2.8 percent in 2013. The central bank will release revised economic forecasts next month.
South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy will release preliminary trade figures for the full month of March on April 1. (Reuters)