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South Korea's May 1-20 exports tumble 20.3%, rate slower than April

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South Korean exports for the first 20 days of May tumbled 20.3 per cent from the same period a year earlier, as US- and EU-bound shipments continued to collapse, highlighting the damage on global demand from the coronavirus pandemic.

[SEOUL] South Korean exports for the first 20 days of May tumbled 20.3 per cent from the same period a year earlier, as US- and EU-bound shipments continued to collapse, highlighting the damage on global demand from the coronavirus pandemic.

But that decline was milder than the 27.6 per cent drop over April 1-20, and analysts are predicting that trade data may have bottomed out as the country's trading partners ease coronavirus lockdowns.

Monthly trade data from Asia's fourth-largest economy is considered a bellwether for world trade as it is the first to be released among major exporting nations.

Imports sank 16.9 per cent - versus 18.5 per cent a month earlier - resulting in a provisional trade deficit of US$2.68 billion for the period, the Korea Customs Service data showed on Thursday.

"Exports look like they're faring better than last month. It's possible exports bottomed out in April," said economist Chun Kyu Yeon at Hana Financial Investment. "Quick recovery in China and Korea is pushing up production."

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Shipments to South Korea's biggest trading partner, China, fell only 1.7 per cent on year as factories there resumed operation, while those to the United States and the European Union dropped 27.9 per cent and 18.4 per cent respectively.

By item, overseas sales of semiconductors - the nation's top-selling product - soared 13.4 per cent, whereas exports of mobile devices and cars collapsed 11.2 per cent and 58.6 per cent respectively.

REUTERS

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