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S. Korea sees sharper drop in exports than OECD peers

South Korea has seen its exports decline at a steeper rate than other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development member states, reflecting the contraction in outbound shipments of semiconductors, ships and petrochemical products, data showed Sunday.

According to data from the OECD, Asia’s fourth-largest economy saw its exports volume dip 5.9 percent from a year earlier in January, standing 26th out of 32 member states that were subject to the latest survey.

The country’s on-year export growth pace peaked at 20.6 percent in October last year, ranked 2nd among 36 OECD states, but tumbled down to 3.6 percent or 16th in ranking in the following month.

Also, its relative position among Group of 20 states marked a visible decline in January. Excluding the three states which monthly statistics were not yet tallied -- the United States, Canada, and Saudi Arabia -- Korea was ranked 15th among 17 member states in on-year export growth, data showed.

The only two countries that fell astern were Japan and Russia, which respectively recorded minus 6.8 percent and minus 11.2 percent in on-year export growth.

Export cargoes are being shipped at Busan Port. (Yonhap)
Export cargoes are being shipped at Busan Port. (Yonhap)

“Amid a sluggish global trade trend, South Korea has especially been suffering a sharper decline in exports that other countries due to its heavy dependence on semiconductors,” said an official of the Bank of Korea.

“Contracted exports of ships and petrochemical goods also contributed to (its weakened performances).”

The outbound trade volume for South Korea’s No. 1 export item semiconductors slipped 23 percent on-year in January. The corresponding figures for ships and petrochemicals respectively fell 17.8 percent and 4.8 percent during the same period.

While the global figures for February are yet to be tallied, Korea was faced with a prolonged export slump in February.

The country’s exports dipped 11.1 percent on-year in February, marking three straight months of fall for the first time since July 2016.

This downtrend is likely to extend into the fourth month in March, as the Korea Customs Service has recently estimated that exports until as of March 20 shrank 4.9 percent from the same period last month.

By Bae Hyun-jung (