Korean Exports Confirm Manufacturing Bottom, China Losing Market Share

South Korea’s trade data in December show early monthly exports may decline less than double-digits for the first time since May, in another sign the global manufacturing slump is bottoming.

Exports during the first 20 days of the month fell 2% from a year earlier. Shipments to China rose 5.3%, on a path for the first monthly gain in more than a year.

Semiconductor sales account for the largest share of South Korean exports, declined 17%, but was up from the more-than-20% declines in previous months.

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“This confirms the view that exports have entered the stage of recovery,” said Park Sang-hyun, an economist for HI Investment & Securities in Seoul. “If the upturn continues, it would be a signal of improvement for not just South Korean exports but global trade and manufacturing.”

South Korea’s exports during Dec. 1-20 expanded 8.1% from the same period a month earlier.

South Korean products have expanded their combined market share in the United States, taking it from their Chinese competitors amid the prolonged U.S.-China trade conflict.  The country has shipped US$64.6 billion worth of products to the U.S., accounting in the first ten months of the year.

It marks the highest market share in three years, and also a turnaround from a slight on-year drop in 2018 to 2.9 percent from 3.0 percent the year before.

During the Jan-Oct period,  China’s exports to the U.S accounted for 18.2 percent of U.S. imports, down from 21.2 percent over the same period last year.

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