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A container is departing the Yeosu-Gwangyang port in South Jeolla Province to export made-in-Korea products. Photo courtesy of Yeosu-Gwangyang Port Authority

Export rises 7.7 percent from a year ago

The Korean economy shows signs of rebounding as amply demonstrated by its stronger-than-expected export in September and duty-free shop sales in the summer season.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy recently said that the country’s outbound shipment stood at $48.05 billion in September, up 7.7 percent from a year before.

It was the first turnaround in seven months since February when the export rose 3.7 percent year-on-year. Back then, COVID-19 did not affect the economy in a full-fledged manner.

The government said that Korea’s three major products of semiconductors, machinery, and automobiles bolstered the export. Import inched up 1.1 percent to $39.17 billion from a year ago.

The Korea Duty-Free Shops Association also recently noted that the country’s duty-free sales also increased for the fourth consecutive month in August compared to July.

As Chinese vendors snapped up more Korean products, the August sales amounted to $1.23 billion, up 15.3 percent from July. But the August figure is less than 70 percent compared to 2019.

Yet, experts point out that full-fledged recovery will not take place until next year because the novel coronavirus is weighing on the economy.

In a report, the Hyundai Research Institute expected that Asia’s No. 4 economy will be able to return to the level achieved before the virus outbreak in late 2021.

Prof. Lee Phil-sang at Seoul National University has a similar opinion.

It is good news that the Korean economy did not get worse in September. Another good news is that China is doing relatively well as it is our No. 1 trade partner,” Lee said.

Because the United States and Europe keep struggling, however, the export-driven Korean economy would be able to fully recover next year at the earliest.”