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(2nd LD) S. Korea's exports fall 8.2 pct in March

All Headlines 10:32 April 01, 2019

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By Kang Yoon-seung

SEJONG, April 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports moved down 8.2 percent in March from a year earlier, government data showed Monday, due to falling global prices of chips coupled with the slowing Chinese economy.

Outbound shipments came to US$47.1 billion for March, down from the $51.3 billion tallied a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Imports decreased 6.7 percent over the cited period to reach $41.8 billion, the ministry added.

Exports fell on-year for the fourth consecutive month.

"Multiple factors, including external issues such as the trade dispute between the United States and China, the slowing global economy, looming protectionism, along with falling prices of chips led to the result," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said the decline is also due to a high base effect, as South Korea's export figure for March 2018 was the highest for the month.

(2nd LD) S. Korea's exports fall 8.2 pct in March - 1

Under the ministry's calculation, South Korea's exports tumbled 5.9 percent when excluding chips and 5.5 percent when ignoring China-related factors. China is the biggest trading partner of Asia's fourth-largest economy.

South Korea's trade surplus came to $5.22 billion in March, marking 86 straight months in which the country's exports have exceeded imports.

South Korea's exports of chips dropped 16.6 percent on-year in March, trailing a drop in global prices coupled with slower sales of smartphones on low seasonal demand. The falling demand from global data centers was also behind the tumble, the ministry said.

The petrochemical segment backtracked 10.7 percent due to increased supply from the U.S.

The ship segment, on the other hand, posted growth of 5.4 percent on-year in March, making it the only segment to show improvement among the top 10 products.

By region, South Korea's exports to China slipped 15.5 percent, falling for the fifth consecutive month. China accounted for 26.8 percent of South Korea's combined exports in 2018 and was the nation's top partner.

Shipments to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) moved down 7.6 percent, following the decrease of the purchasing managers' index in the area.

South Korea's outbound shipments to the European Union also lost ground as European countries revised down their economic growth outlooks.

Exports to the United States improved for the sixth consecutive month on the back of automobile, machinery and petrochemical products.

Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo said the government will continue to make efforts to slow the downward trend in the country's exports in April.

The state-run Korea Trade Insurance Corporation plans to sign agreements with local firms to provide exporters with better financial instruments to support their outbound shipments, the ministry said.

(2nd LD) S. Korea's exports fall 8.2 pct in March - 2

colin@yna.co.kr
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