Business

Tumbling exports from South Korea signal another bad month for global trade

Bloomberg

South Korea’s exports, a bellwether for global trade, appear set for an eighth straight monthly decline as trade disputes take a toll on global demand.

Exports during the first 20 days of July fell 14 percent from a year earlier, data from the Korea Customs Service showed Monday. Semiconductor sales plunged 30 percent, while shipments to China, the biggest buyer of South Korean goods, fell 19 percent.

The early July figures come after Asia’s fourth-largest economy, which relies on exports to generate growth, saw overseas shipments fall in June by the most in 3½ years.

From the same period in June, exports rose 4.2 percent and imports were up 2.8 percent.

The Bank of Korea last week lowered its key interest rate and slashed its 2019 economic growth forecast to 2.2 percent, citing the U.S.-China trade war and Japan’s enforcement of tighter export controls on materials vital to South Korea’s role in the technology supply chain. A downturn in the semiconductor industry has also hammered Korean exports.

South Korea’s 20-day trade numbers work as an indicator for global demand, due to their early release and Korean companies’ deep integration into the global supply chain. The nation’s second-quarter gross domestic product data, due later this week, will also help gauge the health of global demand after China and Singapore reported slumping economic growth.

Korean imports fell 10 percent during the first 20 days of July from a year earlier. Exports to the U.S. edged down 5.1 percent while those to Japan fell 6.6 percent. Imports from the U.S. rose 3.7 percent, while those from Japan dropped 15 percent.