International merchandise trade continued to expand in September, although at a slower pace than that recorded in August with levels remaining about 10% below 2019 averages. Services trade also continued to grow in most economies but, with the exception of China and Japan, which saw strong growth in September, it remained subdued. Merchandise trade data for October point to continued fragility in international trade.
Following strong merchandise trade figures in September (exports and imports increased by 12.8% and 7.0%, respectively), Korean exports and imports contracted by 8.2% and 3.6% in October. Foreign demand for home appliances, electronics and bio-health products (especially Covid-19 diagnostic kits) remained high, but a slowdown in mobile phones and ships drove overall exports down. Korean services imports rebounded strongly in September (up by 10.8%, following the 5.2% contraction in August), driven by computer and business services and travel (up 3.0%, following the 11.6% increase in August). Exports increased only marginally in September (0.8%), as robust growth in business services (13.7%) was offset by decreasing sales in other sectors (construction, of which Korea is a world