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(2nd LD) Exports down 8.7 pct during first 20 days of September

All News 14:23 September 21, 2022

(ATTN: ADDS finance minister's comments at bottom)

SEOUL, Sept. 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports fell 8.7 percent on-year in the first 20 days of September due mainly to fewer working days, and the country logged a trade deficit on high energy costs, data showed Wednesday.

The country's outbound shipments stood at US$32.96 billion in the Sept. 1-20 period, compared with $36.11 billion a year earlier, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service.

The exports decline came as the number of working days during the period came to 13 days, with the comparable figure for last year coming to 14.5 days.

The country had a four-day Chuseok holiday, or the Korean fall harvest celebration, from Sept. 9.

The daily exports, however, inched up 1.8 percent on-year to $2.54 billion, the data showed.

Imports grew 6.1 percent on-year to $37.06 billion during the cited period, resulting in a trade deficit of $4.11 billion.

A year earlier, the country logged a surplus of $1.17 billion.

If the current trend continues, South Korea is likely to post a trade deficit for the sixth straight month in September for the first time in about 25 years.

This file photo taken Sept. 13, 2022, shows stacks of containers at a port in South Korea's southeastern city of Busan. (Yonhap)

This file photo taken Sept. 13, 2022, shows stacks of containers at a port in South Korea's southeastern city of Busan. (Yonhap)

By sector, exports of semiconductors rose 3.4 percent on-year. Chips are one of the country's key export items, accounting for about 20 percent of the total exports.

Last month, the semiconductor exports fell for the first time in 26 months amid the fall in global chip prices.

The outbound shipment of petroleum products surged 38.8 percent on-year during the Sept. 1-20 period.

But exports of cars and auto parts fell 7.5 percent and 12.3 percent, respectively, on-year, according to the data.

By country, exports to major partner nations went down.

Shipment to China, South Korea's largest trading partner, fell 14 percent, following three months of on-year fall from June.

Those to the United States also inched down 1.1 percent, and those to the European Union decreased 15.3 percent on-year during the first 20 days of September.

The growth in imports this month was due mainly to high oil and gas prices amid the prolonged Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Imports of crude oil went up 16.1 percent, and gas spiked 106.9 percent during the Sept. 1-20 period, the data showed.

"Close inspection is needed as we've been facing restrictions in exports regarding China and semiconductors, as well as uncertainty over energy prices," Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho said.


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