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Agriculture exports to China drop 6.7% on virus in Jan.-Feb.


South Korea's exports of farm goods to China fell 6.7 percent in the first two months of the year due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, government data showed Tuesday.

Shipments of agricultural and livestock products to the neighboring country came to $138 million in the January-February period, compared with $148 million during the same period a year earlier, according to the data from the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

The cumulative decline follows a 22.5 percent on-year tumble recorded in January.

"The drop came as COVID-19 battered consumer sentiment and delayed customs and shipping procedures in China, despite the end of China's Lunar New Year holiday," the ministry said.

Exports of fresh foodstuffs to the world's largest economy sank 14.8 percent in the two-month period from a year ago, and those of processed food fell 4.2 percent.

In contrast, shipments of instant noodles spiked nearly 32 percent over the cited period.

The coronavirus outbreak has been weighing on South Korean exports to China as the disease has become a drag on China's economic growth and hurt its consumer sentiment. China is South Korea's top export market.

Meanwhile, South Korea's overall exports of agricultural products stood at $1.07 billion during the January-February period, up 0.2 percent from a year earlier.

Exports of processed food products increased 1 percent on-year, while shipments of fresh foodstuffs shrank 2.9 percent.

Shipments to the United States soared 25.6 percent on-year to $162 million, and exports to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations gained 5.5 percent to $231 million. Exports to Japan decreased 5.7 percent to $211 million. (Yonhap)