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Exports of agricultural goods down 13 pct in Jan. amid coronavirus outbreak

All News 09:58 March 12, 2020

By Kang Yoon-seung

SEOUL, March 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports of agricultural goods tumbled a whopping 13 percent in January from a year earlier as the global outbreak of the new coronavirus dealt a harsh blow to the country's efforts to penetrate deeper into Asian countries.

Outbound shipments of agricultural products reached US$692 million in January, down from $786 million posted a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the state-run Korea Agro-Fisheries & Food Trade Corp.

Exports of fresh goods tumbled 14.4 percent over the cited period to $103.8 million, while shipments of processed goods decreased 9.6 percent to $409.9 million.

Exports of agricultural goods down 13 pct in Jan. amid coronavirus outbreak - 1

Those of fishery products slid 19.3 percent to $179 million, the data showed.

By country, exports to China, the top trading partner of South Korea, nose-dived 22.5 percent to $98.8 million amid falling consumer sentiment in the world's No. 2 economy following the new coronavirus outbreak.

"The COVID-19 outbreak has suspended logistics services in China. With people avoiding offline stores, the amount of inventory is expected to increase down the road as well, leading to an on-year decrease in exports of agricultural goods to China," the corporation said in a report.

Exports to Japan also fell 18.4 percent, while those to Southeast Asia edged down 3.9 percent.

Meanwhile, South Korea's exports of instant noodles rose 9.5 percent on-year in January as people sought after foodstuffs that can be preserved for longer periods amid the epidemic.

The trade corporation said South Korea's exports may rebound later in the year if the COVID-19 epidemic is contained within the first quarter.

"If the issue lasts for a longer period, however, exporters will face more limitations in sales and shipping of goods, leading to a further decrease in exports," the report added.

South Korea's total outbound shipments slid 10.3 percent in 2019 due to falling global prices of chips and the prolonged trade dispute between the United States and China.

The country earlier vowed to put its exports on the recovery track within the first half of 2020, but the global COVID-19 spread has emerged as yet another challenge for Asia's No. 4 economy.

South Korea's combined daily average exports slipped 2.5 percent on-year in the first 10 days of March, according to data from the Korea Customs Service.

colin@yna.co.kr
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