SEOUL, April 14 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's export prices dropped from a month before in March, central bank data showed Tuesday, possibly indicating worsening conditions for South Korean products amid the new coronavirus pandemic.
The export prices index, in terms of local currency, came to 96.59 last month, down 1.1 percent from revised 97.63 the previous month, according to preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).
The reading marks a turnaround from a 0.9 percent on-month increase in February.
From a year earlier, however, the reading marks a 10th consecutive month of decline.
"Export prices dropped 1.1 percent from the previous month in March despite a drop in the won-dollar exchange rate, due to cuts in prices of coal, petroleum products and chemical products," the BOK said in a press release.
The local currency traded at an average 1,220.09 won per dollar in March, down 2.2 percent from an average 1,193.79 won per dollar in February, it added.
In terms of foreign currencies, the export price index dipped 3.3 percent from a month earlier in March, and 9.9 percent from the same month last year.
The drop also followed a sharp cut in global oil prices.
The BOK said the average price of Dubai crude came to US$33.71 per barrel in March, down 37.8 percent from $54.23 per barrel the previous month.
Still, the drop in South Korea's export prices also comes amid the spread of the novel coronavirus, which, according to experts here, may have peaked in South Korea but not in other countries.
South Korea has reported 10,537 COVID-19 cases since confirming its first infection case on Jan. 20. Globally the respiratory disease has infected more than 1.8 million people.
In March, South Korea's outbound shipments only slipped 0.2 percent from a year earlier.
The disease, however, is widely expected to undermine South Korea's exports by slowing global demand.
The Korea Customs Service on Monday said the country's outbound shipments plunged 18.6 percent on-year in the first 10 days of April.
Possibly indicating continued, or even growing, demand for food, the export prices of South Korea's farmed goods, including fisheries, jumped 2.0 percent from a month earlier in March, while that of industrial goods slipped 1.1 percent over the cited period.
South Korea's import prices plunged 5.2 percent on-month in March, apparently due to the cuts in energy prices.
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