The rise of the Korean won (pictured) and the Japanese yen is good new, not bad. Photo: Asia Times/Andrew Salmon

Negative trade data continues to flood in as one of Asia’s manufacturing powerhouses saw its exports plunge nearly 21% for the first two weeks of November, year-on-year.

South Korea’s exports fell 20.8% in the first 10 days of this month – largely on the back of decreased shipments of semiconductors and ships, data showed Monday, according to Yonhap news agency.

Exports shipped from Asia’s fourth-largest economy stood at US$11.9 billion in the November 1-10 period. That compares with $15 billion from the same period last year, according to figures released by the Korea Customs Service.

According to the data, exports of semiconductors and ships fell 33.3% and 64.4%, respectively. Outbound shipments of petroleum products and passenger cars also declined by 27.1% and 3.8%.

South Korea’s import data for the period also lagged the previous year’s numbers. Goods imported for the 10 days were worth $12.3 billion – down 21.5% from a year earlier.

While there has been a slow recovery in South Korean shipyards’ order books this year, the global chip sector remains stuck in a cyclical demand slump, which the industry had hoped – so far in vain – would ameliorate from the second half of this year.

Meanwhile, the two leading export destinations for South Korea – and Japan – are China and the United States. The two countries’ cross-Pacific trade war is causing collateral damage to Asian exporters, while also impacting global supply chains.

Monday’s grim numbers are only the latest. Last month’s trade figures had marked the 11th consecutive monthly downturn for South Korea. Questions are also hovering over whether South Korea will be able to achieve an already negatively revised forecast of 2% GDP growth this year.

And the bad news appears to be getting out. TV news noted that foreign players were net sellers of Korean stocks for the third straight month in October.

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