Korea’s export, import prices down in April to bode ill for trade prospects

2020.05.15 11:16:12

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South Korea’s export and import prices slumped in April in line with subdued oil prices and demand under pandemic influence, boding ill for trade-reliant economy faced with zero inflation.

According to data released by the Bank of Korea on Friday, the country’s export price index in April fell 1.6 percent on month to 94.54, extending losses for two straight months after a 1.1 percent drop in March.

Against a year earlier, the index slid 5.9 percent to stretch the losing streak to 11 months.

When excluding the effect of Korean won-U.S. dollar exchange rate, the index slipped 1.9 percent on month and 11.9 percent on year.

The export price of coal and petroleum products, Korea’s major export items, plunged 31.1 percent on month. Diesel prices plummeted 32.9 percent, gasoline 44.5 percent, jet fuel 41.2 percent, and naphtha 37.9 percent.

Meanwhile, the price of DRAM chips climbed 7.4 percent, and system semiconductor 5.1 percent. Computers, electronic and optic devices gained 2.3 percent, but chemical products lost 2.7 percent.

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Import price index in April also dropped 5.1 percent on month to 95.52, the fourth fall in a row. Against a year ago, it was down 14.1 percent. Index without the exchange rate effect was off 5.3 percent on month and 19.5 percent on year.

Prices of coal and petroleum products tumbled 32.2 percent, with Naphtha down 36.1 percent and propane gas down 46.3 percent. Crude prices declined 39.3 percent.

The weakening in global oil prices amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has led to the fall in import cost as Korea relies entirely on imports for crude and other commodities.

Prices of Dubai crude, the benchmark of Asia, averaged $20.39 per barrel in April, weakening from $33.71 in March. A U.S. dollar averaged at 1,225.23 Korean won, up 0.4 percent from a month ago.

By Lee Ha-yeon

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