South Korea is set to finish the first half in the biggest six-month red in trade balance as imports have become overwhelmingly more expensive from spike in international commodities for fueling and food than its exports of chips and other finished industrial products.
According to data released by Korea Customs Service on Tuesday, Korea’s exports fell 3.4 percent from year-ago period to $31.2 billion from June 1 to 20, while imports jumped 21.1 percent to $38.925 billion.
The trade balance as the result of towering imports incurred a deficit of $7.64 billion, compared with a surplus of $236 million a year ago.
Although daily exports were 11 percent higher, the double-digit growth streak since March last year is expected to come to an end this month.
Semiconductor exports rose 1.9 percent, oil products 88.3 percent, and household appliances 4.0 percent on year. Outbound shipments of cars, however, fell 23.5 percent, auto components 14.7 percent, and wireless communications devices 23.5 percent.
Exports to Taiwan surged 16.5 percent and Singapore 54.9 percent, but shipments to the country’s key markets all fell – to China by 6.8 percent, the United States by 2.1 percent, the European Union by 5.3 percent, and Vietnam by 4.7 percent.
Imports soared, largely led by a 63.8 percent jump in crude, 40.2 percent in semiconductors, petroleum products 24.5 percent.
The growth in fuel sources remained high.
Imports of crude jumped 63.8 percent, liquefied natural gas 30.2 percent, and coal 155.4 percent to amount to $9.2 billion, up 67.5 percent from $5.5 billion a year ago.
Imports from China gained 23.4 percent, the U.S. 13.3 percent, Japan 1.9 percent while inbound shipments from the EU dipped 3.3 percent and Russia 44.1 percent.
Accumulated deficit so far this year has reached $15.47 billion. The record six-month deficit had been $12.5 billion in the second half of 1996.
The Korea International Trade Association (KITA) in its outlook on Tuesday projected the country to record a trade deficit of $14.7 billion this year on exports of $703.9 billion and imports of $718.5 billion. It would be the first red in 14 years, higher than $13.27 billion in 2008 and the largest since $20.6 billion in 1996.
By Susan Lee
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