Vehicle exports decrease sharply
The volume dropped from $10 billion last year to $8.92 billion this year, with Korea exporting a total of 653,000 units, down 9.6 percent during the same period.
“Exports to oil-producing countries have dropped significantly due to the decline in crude prices, which have pulled down their economies,” said Seo Jae-yong, a director at the Korea Customs Service. “Exports of mid- to large-size sedans, the main exporting vehicle type, dropped 14.6 percent, leading to the overall decline.”
Exports to the United States accounted for 46.5 percent of the total, or $4.2 billion, up 3 percent from the previous year. Exports to Saudi Arabia fell by 53.8 percent, while those to the United Kingdom and Canada dropped 5.6 percent and 2.2 percent each.
The trade balance for automobiles to the European Union continued at a deficit, but the recent data shows slight improvement. “The deficit reached $531 in December but has dropped to $8 million as of March,” Seo said.
Locally-manufactured gasoline cars were popular in the United States, whereas locally-made diesel cars sold well in Europe.
Meanwhile, the number of foreign vehicles imported to Korea decreased 9 percent from the year before and 21.2 percent from the previous quarter.
“It appears that there were a lot of companies that have imported cars ahead of time or in the last quarter, since the individual consumption tax was supposed to end in December,” Seo said.
The individual consumption tax is levied on items including automobiles and large-size home appliances, and companies might have had to pay more for importing vehicles if the tax had been removed. However, the government decided to extend the tax until June of this year.
The Korea Customs Service said that mid- to large-size German sedans were the most popular among Koreans.
The average unit price for vehicle exports was $13,667, a 3.1 percent decline year on year from $14,100, whereas for vehicle imports, the price has dropped 7.4 percent during the same period to $29,839.
BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [email@example.com]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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