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Trade on course to reach over $1T

June 27,2011
Korea’s trade volume will comfortably climb over $1 trillion for the first time in its history this year, with its annual trade surplus expected to top $30 billion, a local trade group said yesterday. Meanwhile, a separate study showed that Korea’s growth has largely been fueled by conglomerates.

In the first five months of the year, Korea’s exports jumped 26.7 percent from the same period last year to $227.2 billion with imports also rising 26.4 percent on-year to $213.1 billion, according to the Korea International Trade Association.

KITA said exports in June will likely reach $50 billion to put the half-year total at $272.2 billion, while imports will reach $47 billion to put the six-month total at $260.1 billion.

“The country will be able to open an era of $1 trillion in trade for the first time in its history this year as both our exports and imports will continue to increase stably throughout the year despite growing uncertainties in the global trade market,” KITA said in a press release.

Exports in the second half are expected to grow 15.8 percent from the same period last year to $283.8 billion, with imports surging 22.1 percent to $270.4 billion, it said.

For the entire year, exports are to reach $561 billion, up 20.3 percent from 2010, and imports $530.5 billion, up 24.8 percent from last year, for a trade surplus of $30.5 billion.

KITA has long been confident the country will become the world’s ninth economy to top $1 trillion in trade this year after the country’s trade volume reached a record $823 billion last year.

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, one of Korea’s largest trading partners, were earlier feared to have created unexpected obstacles for the country, but instead the events pushed up Korea’s exports in many industrial sectors.

According to KITA, exports of petroleum products, including gasoline and diesel, in the first half of the year are expected to have jumped 73.6 percent from the same period last year to $24.7 billion, as the Japanese quake halted the operations of many refineries in Japan.

Meanwhile, a separate report showed that facility investments by large conglomerates played a significant role in the country’s solid economic growth in 2010.

The latest report comes amid mounting criticism of large businesses for not doing enough to fuel economic growth in past years.

The Korea Economic Research Institute, a nongovernmental think tank run by the Federation of Korean Industries, said that of the 279.5 trillion won ($259 billion) worth of gross fixed investments made last year, 121.3 trillion won came from big businesses, with small- and medium-sized firms contributing 121.3 trillion won.

It said financial firms and private investors added another 50.8 trillion won last year, with the government paying 48.1 trillion won.

KERI claimed that investments by conglomerates pushed up growth by 2.3 percentage points, adding that since the Korean economy grew 6.2 percent overall in 2010, big companies contributed 37 percent to total growth. The institute also said that despite overall investments by the country’s top 30 companies contracting 9.0 percent on-year in 2009, numbers surged 39.9 percent last year. This, it pointed out, caused average investment growth of big companies to reach 12.4 percent in the 2009-2010 period.


Yonhap



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