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S. Korea sees steep drop in merchandise exports among G-20

South Korea’s exports have plunged the most among G-20 nations due to the ongoing US-China trade conflict, data compiled by the World Trade Organization showed Monday.

The country’s second-quarter exports dropped 8.6 percent on-year to $138.6 billion, marking the second-largest decline among G-20 members. Indonesia outranked Korea in terms of decline in exports with a 9.1 percent drop. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) and US President Donald Trump attend a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 29. (AFP-Yonhap)
Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) and US President Donald Trump attend a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Osaka, Japan, on June 29. (AFP-Yonhap)

By nation, outbound shipments of those heavily reliant on either the US and China saw the steepest falls.

Korea’s outbound shipments have been lackluster for a while, having extended a losing streak for nine consecutive months as of August. Overall, the total exports came to $44.2 billion in August, down 13.6 percent on-year, with outbound shipments to China and the US plunging by 21.3 percent and 6.7 percent, respectively, in the same period.

China is Indonesia’s largest trading partner, due to its a huge demand for coal and steel. Its exports to China came to $14.5 billion in the first-half of 2018, accounting for 15.4 percent of the total at the time. Meanwhile, Indonesia’s imports from China amounted to $24.8 billion in the same period.

Russia which ranked No. 3 with an 8.3 percent decline, has been weighed down by a sharp decline in global oil prices and Western sanctions against Moscow over its annexation of the Crimea region from Ukraine in 2014.

In contrast, other G-20 members and parties directly engaged in the trade war -- China and the US -- saw a 3.1 percent and 1 percent drop, respectively, on-year.

Canada, Turkey, Mexico, Argentina and Australia were the only G-20 nations to see an increase in outbound shipments on-year.

Korea also moved down a notch in the export value ranking from the same period a year earlier. The export-reliant economy ranked No. 6 in the second quarter, with France -- which remained flat in its exports in the 12-month period -- taking its spot.

The WTO also recently released a bleak outlook for merchandise trade in the third quarter. The growth in global trade index for the third quarter was 95.7 in August, below the baseline value of 100. 

By Jung Min-kyung (mkjung@heraldcorp.com)

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