By Cynthia Kim
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s exports rose for a third month in December but at a slower pace as weaker demand for Korean goods in China offset robust global sales for semiconductors, data showed on Monday.
Exports by Asia’s fourth largest economy gained 5.1% to $57.66 billion in December, slowing from a rise of 7.7% in November and also below 6.6% gain seen in Reuters poll of economists.
Export data out of Asia’s fourth largest economy is a closely watched indicator to gauge momentum for global trade.
Policymakers are pinning hope on recovering exports for an estimated 2.1% of economic expansion in 2024 as high borrowing costs and sticky inflation keep consumer spending sluggish.
Chip exports turned a corner in November, rising for the first time in 16 months as slump in semiconductor demand began to ease.
In December, chip exports surged 21.8% year-on-year after a jump of 12.9% a month earlier.
Exports to China declined 2.9% on year.
Imports declined 10.8% in December on-year, better than a 11.4% of drop seen in the poll and easing after a 11.6% of drop in November.
That took the preliminary trade surplus for December to $4.48 billion.
For the whole 2023, exports declined 7.4% as restrictive monetary policies in many countries and a slowing Chinese economy weakened demand for Korean goods, trade ministry said.
(Reporting by Cynthia Kim; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Diane Craft)