Exports nearly halved during first 10 days of May
The pandemic has crippled Korea’s exports, which during the first 10 days of May have nearly halved compared with the same period last year.
Korea’s exports amounted to $6.92 billion during that period, a 46.3 percent decline from 2019, according to data released by the Korea Customs Service on Monday.
The falling value of exports is accelerating as Korea’s major markets, including the United States, struggle to contain the coronavirus and the economic fallout of the global outbreak.
In April, Korea’s exports shrank 24 percent, the sharpest decline since May 2009. It was also the first time Korea’s trade had posted a deficit after 99 straight months of trade surpluses.
The agency’s 10-day reports are used as an indicator for determining the health of Korea’s trade. In the first 10 days of April, the value of exports declined 18.6 percent on year.
All major exported goods fell, including semiconductors, the main driver of Korea’s export growth.
Automobile exports fell the sharpest, tumbling 80 percent on year, while petrochemical goods dropped 76 percent. The local petrochemical industry has suffered on the back of weakened demand and falling international crude prices. West Texas International crude oil is currently trading for less than $25 per barrel, about 60 percent less than what it was one year ago.
Mobile telecommunication equipment exports, which included smartphones, have fallen 36 percent.
Semiconductor exports fell 18 percent.
Ships were the only export in positive terrain, increasing 55 percent on year.
China, Korea’s largest export market, fell 29 percent year-on-year.
Korea’s exports saw the sharpest drop in the United States, which fell by 55 percent. The situation was similar for the European market, where exports were down 51 percent.
Exports to Japan fell 48 percent while exports to Vietnam dropped 52 percent.
During the same period, imports shrank 37.2 percent to $9.55 billion. As a result, Korea’s trade so far this month is at a deficit of $2.63 billion.
There is some speculation that Korean exports this month could end up falling farther than the record 34.5 percent drop reported in January 2009.
BY LEE HO-JEONG [firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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