South Korea's trade surplus reached 4.48 billion U.S. dollars last month due to export expansion that offset a rise in import, a government report showed Saturday.
The November trade surplus was up from a surplus of 3.73 billion dollars in October, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy. The trade balance stayed in the black for 10 months in a row.
Exports increased 3.9 percent on-year to reach this year's high of 47.8 billion dollars in November, and imports rose 0.7 percent to 43.32 billion dollars. Both exports and imports kept their growth trend for two months in a row.
The November surplus beat market expectation due to the faster- than-forecast export expansion, indicating that the export-driven economy may show a relatively solid growth trend despite external uncertainties.
The faster growth in exports was attributed to strong demand from China, South Korea's No.1 trading partner. Outbound shipments to the world's second largest economy jumped 10.7 percent on-year in November. The growth pace of exports to China has gradually risen from a 1 percent in July and 2.7 percent in August to 9.9 percent in September and 11.5 percent in October.
Exports to the ASEAN member countries surged 28.6 percent on- year last month, staying in the 20 percent level for two straight months. Shipments to Japan increased 3.7 percent, but those to the United States and the European Union (EU) declined 4 percent and 13.9 percent respectively.
Solid demand for locally-made IT products pushed up the November exports, while auto parts and oil products showed relatively upbeat export momentum. Exports of telecommunication devices and semiconductors soared 25.3 percent and 12.9 percent respectively last month.
Shipments of auto parts and petroleum products expanded 11.3 percent and 10.1 percent respectively last month, but those for ships and general machinery plunged 47.4 percent and 1.9 percent respectively.
Meanwhile, import growth stayed at a relatively low level last month due to still fragile domestic demand. "Imports likely remained subdued as domestic demand is growing below trend," Moody's Analytics said in a report before the data release.
Imports of capital goods increased 3.6 percent on-year in November, but those for raw materials and consumer goods contracted 3.7 percent and 7.1 percent respectively last month.
Despite the global economic slump and the local currency's appreciation against the U.S. dollar, the country's exports maintained their growth trend for two straight months, hinting at the brighter export outlook.
For the first 11 months of this year, the nation's trade surplus amounted to 26.8 billion dollars, down from 28.54 billion dollars for the same period of last year.
The accumulative trading volume reached 979.5 billion dollars during the January-November period, with exports contracting 0.8 percent to 503.17 billion dollars and imports retreating 0.5 percent to 476.37 billion dollars, the ministry said, forecasting that the trade volume will breach the 1-trillion-dollar mark in mid-December.