South Korea's exports posted their first year-on-year gain in 13 months in November, a further sign the country has overcome the worst of the global economic meltdown.
Exports increased 18.8 percent to $34.3 billion in November from a year earlier, the government said in a statement Tuesday. Imports rose 4.7 percent to $30.2 billion.
South Korea recorded a trade surplus of $4.05 billion, the 10th straight month the country's trade balance has been in the black, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, which deals with commerce.
November's export gain was the first year-on-year increase since October last year, according to Kim Jong-woo, an official at the ministry.
Minister of Knowledge Economy Choi Kyung-hwan said a trade surplus of $40 billion is expected for this year. "The growth of our export volume is showing a favorable pace," he told reporters.
For the first 11 months of this year, South Korea recorded a trade surplus of $37.8 billion, compared with a deficit of $13.8 billion during the same period last year, the ministry said. The country's trade deficit for all of last year came to $13.3 billion, according to Kim, the ministry official.
"(South) Korea's exports surged in year-on-year terms due to the virtual collapse in exports a year ago," Alaistair Chan, an economist with Moody's Economy.com in Sydney, wrote in a report. "Exports and imports are likely to continue recording strong year-on-year numbers in coming months," he said.
South Korean exports were hit hard by the global economic crisis last year, which saw consumers overseas drastically cut back on spending.
That contributed to a contraction in Asia's fourth-largest economy during the final three months of last year. South Korea has since steadily grown during the first three quarters of this year as exports and manufacturing have improved amid a stronger global economy.
South Korea's broadest measure of trade and investment _ the current account _ is expected to return to surplus in 2009 after recording a deficit last year, the country's first since 1997 when it was hit by the Asian economic crisis that forced Seoul to accept an international financial bailout.
Major exporters Samsung Electronics Co., Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. announced all-time high quarterly net profit figures for the three months ended Sept. 30.
South Korea's benchmark stock index rose Tuesday, gaining 0.9 percent to close at 1,569.72. The South Korean won rose, finishing at 1,161.10 against the greenback.