S Korea’s export rebound in 15 months on more business days

South Korea's export posted the first rebound in 15 months in February due mainly to the higher number of business days, a government report showed Sunday, reports Xinhua. Export, which accounts for about half of the South Korean economy, reached 41.26 billion U.S. dollars in February, up 4.5 percent from the same month of last year, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

It was the first turnaround since November 2018 owing to the higher number of business days, caused by the Lunar New Year holiday that moved to January this year from February last year. The daily export averaged 1.83 billion U.S. dollars in February, down 11.7 percent from a year earlier. The daily shipment expanded 4.6 percent in January.

Import added 1.4 percent over the year to 37.15 billion U.S. dollars in February, sending the trade surplus to 4.11 billion U.S. dollars. The trade balance stayed in the black for 97 straight months. Semiconductor export increased 9.4 percent in February from a year earlier, marking the first rebound in 15 months thanks to higher price for DRAM chips and strong demand for chips used for datacenter servers.

General machinery shipment advanced 10.6 percent on solid U.S. demand, and ship export gained for two straight months on robust demand for liquified natural gas (LNG) carriers and very large crude carrier (VLCC). Computer export soared 89.2 percent, keeping an upward momentum for the fifth consecutive month, and shipment for telecommunication devices grew 8.0 percent thanks to higher demand for mobile phone components.

Auto parts shipment rebounded in two months, and textiles export marked the first turnaround in 16 months due to higher demand from the Middle East. Consumer electronics shipment turned around in two months, but automobile export tumbled 16.6 percent due to the supply disruption of auto parts from China.

Petrochemicals export declined amid lower product price and weaker demand, and display panel shipment retreated 21.8 percent on the global supply glut. Steel shipment diminished 9.9 percent on weaker demand from China, and oil product export fell last month amid the lower global demand.

Export to the United States recorded the first rebound in nine months on demand for locally-made chips, computers, automobiles and general machinery. Shipment to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) kept growing for the second consecutive month, and export to Latin American countries rebounded in five months.

Export to India posted a double-digit gain in February, but shipment to China, South Korea's biggest trading partner, contracted 6.6 percent on weaker demand for petrochemicals, oil products, general machinery and display panels.  Exports to the European Union, the Middle East and Japan fell 2.0 percent, 0.1 percent and 0.3 percent respectively.