South Korea shrugs off tension with sharp rise in exports

Image source, Reuters

Despite political and regional tensions, South Korea's economy is proving resilient.

Figures show exports are growing at the fastest rate in six years.

Demand for high-tech memory chips helped boost exports by 24% in April compared with a year earlier, the sixth month in a row that exports have risen.

Exports to the US rose by a relatively modest 3.9% over the past 12 months, but to the European Union by a soaring 64.9%.

US trade review

South Koreans are going to the polls next week, following the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye over a corruption scandal last year.

The 65-year-old former president, who remains in custody, was formally charged last month.

Tension has also escalated in the region over North Korea's nuclear programme, with US sending warships to the region.

But South Korea's export performance has continued to improve, boosting its trade surplus with the rest of the world to $13.25bn.

US President Trump has warned that he is reviewing the US's free trade deal with South Korea.

However the trade data may ease the pressure on Seoul, as exports to the US rose only 3.9% in April, leaving South Korea's trade surplus with the US lower in April than a year ago.

As well as semi-conductors, South Korea's exports were boosted by oil products, machinery and household electronics.

Due to the nature of the industry, shipbuilding, which rose 103% in April, tends to provide an uneven impact on exports. However even without that spike, other exports rose nearly 17%.

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