South Korea's finance minister said Wednesday that the government will come up with measures next month to boost exports amid concerns that overseas shipments would contract in January from a year earlier.
Hong Nam-ki said measures to revitalize exports have gained urgency as uncertainties have deepened over slowing global growth and trade frictions between the United States and China.
Hong made the comments in a meeting with relevant officials on how to boost the economy at a government building in central Seoul.
South Korea's exports stood at $25.7 billion in the first 20 days of January, down a sharp 14.6 percent from a year earlier. The decline is blamed on a plunge in overseas shipments of semiconductors, a key export item of Asia's fourth-largest economy.
In December, South Korea's exports fell 1.2 percent on-year to $48.5 billion due to sluggish sales of autos and displays, while imports edged up 0.9 percent to $43.91 billion.
Exports are a significant part of the country's gross domestic product.
Also Wednesday, customs data showed that South Korea's exports of passenger cars declined in 2018 from a year earlier due to sluggish demand in the United States, Australia, Germany and Saudi Arabia.
South Korea shipped 2.47 million passenger cars worth $37.5 billion in 2018, compared with 2.54 million passenger cars worth $38.1 billion in 2017, according to the data compiled by the Korea Customs Service.
Among them, South Korean shipments of passenger vehicles to the U.S. fell 7 percent to $13.5 billion in 2018 from $14.6 billion a year earlier.
The U.S. is the largest market of South Korean passenger cars, accounting for 36.3 percent of South Korea's total exports of passenger cars in 2018. (Yonhap)