The Korea Herald


S. Korea logs record high exports, largest ever trade deficit in 2022

By Yonhap

Published : Jan. 1, 2023 - 10:03

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This file photo shows ships carrying containers docked at a port in South Korea's southeastern city of Busan. (Yonhap) This file photo shows ships carrying containers docked at a port in South Korea's southeastern city of Busan. (Yonhap)

South Korea's exports rose 6.1 percent in 2022 from a year earlier to reach an all-time high, but it suffered the largest ever trade deficit on high global energy prices, the industry ministry said Sunday.

Outbound shipments stood at $683.9 billion last year, the largest annual figure since 1956, when the country began compiling trade related data, according to data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The previous record was set a year earlier with $644.4 billion, the ministry said.

The record exports were on the back of solid global demand for the country's major export items, including semiconductors and petro products, as well as the largest-ever sales of electric vehicles and secondary cells.

The performance put the country at the world's sixth-largest exporter, up one notch from a year earlier, following China, the United States, Germany, the Netherlands and Japan.

Imports spiked 18.9 percent on-year to $731.2 billion last year, resulting in a trade deficit of $47.2 billion.

It is the first time since 2008 that the country suffered a trade deficit, and the shortfall is more than double of the previous record deficit of $20.62 billion logged in 1996, according to the ministry.

South Korea depends on imports for most of its energy needs, and the country's energy imports surged more than 40 percent on-year to $190.8 billion in 2022, the ministry said.

For December, monthly exports fell 9.5 percent on-year to stand at $54.99 billion, extending the losing streak to the third consecutive month.

Imports went down 2.4 percent on-year last month to $59.68 billion, and the monthly trade deficit came to $4.69 billion.

Imports have exceeded exports in South Korea since April, and it is the first time since 1997 that the country has suffered a trade deficit for nine months in a row.

The country is forecast to see a 4.5 percent fall in exports in 2023 on a global economic slowdown and weak chip prices, ringing an alarm over its growth momentum.

The government vowed all-out efforts to prop up exports by extending trade financing and devising strategies to expand its market presence in emerging markets and resources-rich nations. (Yonhap)