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South Korean trade has kicked the year off with a bang as imports and exports both grew at the quickest clip in more than four years.

Exports grew 11.2 per cent year-on-year in January from a 6.4 per cent drop in December. A median forecast from economists had predicted a rise of only 9 per cent.

That was the biggest annualised gain since February 2012, when shipments from the country shot up by 20.6 per cent.

Imports were up 18.6 per cent year on year, more than doubling from the previous month’s revised growth rate of 8 per cent (previously 7.3 per cent) and besting a median forecast from economists by 8.5 percentage points.

January growth in inbound shipments was also the highest since September 2011, when they rose 29.4 per cent.

Those flows tallied up to a trade surplus of $3.2bn in January, down from a revised $6.8bn (previously $7bn) and coming in below expectations of $5.3bn.

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