[Graphics by Song Ji-yoon]
Prices of imports rose faster than those of exports for South Korea last month, with the pace picking up to near seven-year high due to unfazed strengthening in international commodity prices, which could hurt profitability of the export-reliant current account and fan inflationary pressure in the longer run.
According to the Bank of Korea (BOK) on Wednesday, the import price index added 2.3 percent from a month prior to 115.43, climbing for the second month in a row to hit the highest level since September 2014. Against a year earlier, it jumped 14 percent.
The export price index in June edged up at a slower pace of 0.7 percent on month to 107.12 (base year 2015), marking the seventh straight month of monthly price gains. The index gained 12.7 percent on year, the fastest growth since March 2009.
The rise in import prices was mainly driven by higher international oil and raw materials prices, the BOK said. The price of benchmark Dubai crude, which averaged $66.34 per barrel in May, rose 7.9 percent to $71.6 per barrel in June.
Raw material import prices climbed 6.4 percent against a month ago and intermediary goods edged up 1 percent. Capital goods remained unchanged and consumer goods fell 0.2 percent.
The rising import prices of raw materials and intermediary goods would lead local producers to raise product prices to reflect hikes in manufacturing costs, said a BOK official.
The recovery in global business activities and the surge in demand for chips and automobiles led the overall rise in the country’s export price index, according to the bank. Prices of coal and petroleum products gained 6.2 percent, agricultural and fishery products 2.1 percent. Computers, electronic and optical devices inched up 0.9 percent. Prices of LCD display for TVs jumped 10.8 percent on month and flash memory 5.3 percent.
By Lee Soo-min
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