South Korea’s import value index reached an all-time high in March on a surge in global oil and other commodities prices, causing payment disputes among traders on top of macro fallout of deterioration in trade balance and inflationary buildup.
The country’s import value index came to 178.16 in March, jumping 28.3 percent on year, according to Bank of Korea’s data released on Thursday. The reading is the highest since data tracking began in January 1988.
The import value index, which measures the development in prices of imported goods with a base of 100 set on the level in 2015, has been rising over the recent 16 months in a row.
The import value index for machinery and equipment fell 10.3 percent and transportation equipment 7.3 percent to suggest retreat in facility investment.
The value of imports for mining products jumped 88.4 percent, coal/petroleum products 57.9 percent, and primary metals 23.4 percent on the surge in global oil and other commodities prices.
Import volume index also gained 5.1 percent on year due to the sharp growth in prices of oil and raw materials, noted Sohn Jin-sik, statistics team official at Bank of Korea.
Volume and value indices of exports also hit all-time highs, although growth has not been able to catch up with higher rises in imports.
The country’s export volume index gained 5.6 percent on year to 133.26, extending the winning streak for six straight months, while export value index climbed 20.9 percent on year.
The faster rise in import value versus export cost have led to increase in payment disputes between manufacturers and their contractors.
The Korea Fair Trade Mediation Agency received application for mediation on seven dispute cases on payment issues from January to March this year, five more than a year earlier. It handled mediations for 33 payment dispute cases last year, nearly doubled from 19 cases in 2020. Most cases were about disagreement on the prices of goods under contract due to the jump in raw materials prices.
By Baek Sang-kyung, Ahn Byung-joon and Cho Jeehyun
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