S. Korea exports slowly return to growth


    SEOUL- South Korea’s exports for the first 20 days of the month returned to growth for the first time since March, helped by higher microchip and car sales in a boost to recovery hopes in the trade-reliant economy.

    Exports grew 3.6 percent from a year earlier during Sept. 1-20, while imports declined 6.8 percent on-year, Korea Customs Service data showed on Monday.

    The positive overseas sales also reflected two more working days this year due to changes in the nation’s Chuseok holiday, underlining the still-sluggish global demand conditions.

    Shipments had slumped 7.5 percent during Aug. 1-20, while imports tumbled 12.4 percent, as the coronavirus pandemic took a toll on businesses.

    Average exports per working day fell 9.8 percent when adjusting for the calendar effect of extra work days.

    A breakdown of data showed shipments of semiconductors, South Korea’s top exporting item, surged 25.3 percent, while those of cars also jumped 38.8 percent.

    Analysts have attributed the jump in chip exports earlier this month to stockpiling by Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies ahead of US sanctions which kicked in on Sept. 15.

    “It is questionable whether the robust chip sales will continue in October, as (September data) reflects Huawei’s stockpiling demand during the first half of the month,” said Meritz Securities’ economist Lee Seung-hoon.