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 U.S. will sap momentum in Asia’s fourth-largest economy.
Exports rose 8.7 percent from a year earlier, the trade ministry said in a statement on Saturday. That compared with a 10.2 percent gain forecast by economists in a Bloomberg survey. Imports jumped 9.2 percent, leaving a trade surplus of $6.9 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 percent to a record $11.5 billion, and petrochemical products shipments also hit a record $4.35 billion. South Korea releases its trade data earlier than most other major economies, and is considered as a bellwether for global demand.
Strong demands for South Korean products may ease concerns over growth momentum in the export-dependent nation amid an escalating trade fight between the U.S. and China — its two biggest trading partners. Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol cited the U.S.-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 percent on Friday.
Korea’s exports to China rose 20.8 percent in August from a year earlier, while those to the U.S. and Japan increased 1.5 percent and 15 percent, 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 that those two factors to continue.