South Korea’s exports expanded at a slower pace in March, with its trade balance swinging to a deficit as imports surged amid soaring energy prices.
Overseas shipments grew 18.2% from a year earlier to $63.48 billion, following February’s 20.6% increase, according to preliminary data released by the trade ministry on Friday.
That marked the 17th straight month of year-on-year growth for exports and beat expectations for a 15.9% rise from a Wall Street Journal poll of seven economists.
Demand for Korean memory chips and petrochemical products was brisk, with shipments to major markets, including the U.S. and China, expanding strongly.
Imports jumped 27.9% to $63.62 billion after a revised 25.2% rise in February, on higher prices of crude, liquefied natural gas and coal, resulting in a trade deficit of $140 million in March.
Analysts said the war in Ukraine and global supply constraints kept commodity prices high and led to a sharp rise in the value of the country’s imports.