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.
“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.