Business & Economy

Coronavirus casts shadow on South Korean exports

Seoul, Apr 1 (efe-epa).- A decline in South Korea’s exports in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in March has cast a shadow on the sector even though the country recorded a year-on-year trade surplus for the month.

According to a statement Wednesday by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, a decline in exports towards the later part of March limited the value of exports to $46.9 billion, or 0.2 percent less than that recorded in the same month in 2019.

However, the country still managed to register a trade surplus of $5.04 billion, 0.5 percent higher than the same month last year, owing to a fall in imports.

South Korean imports shrank 0.3 percent year-on-year in March to stand at $41.8 billion.

The ministry warned that while the effects of the pandemic had been limited in March, the full impact on exports would be clearly visible from April onwards.

Exports form a major pillar of the Asian country’s economy and is among the top contributors to the country’s GDP.

For several months, South Korea had been impacted by the trade war between China and the United States, two of its major trading partners.

Following the first phase of a recent agreement between Washington and Beijing to break the deadlock, Seoul’s economy was beginning to show signs of recovery in exports.

South Korea’s trade surplus in March was 26.6 percent more than that recorded the previous month.

However, the export figures fell short of analysts’ expectations of a 1.2 percent year-on-year increase, clearly demonstrating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the main contributor to the Asian country’s GDP.

Shipments of semiconductors, the country’s main export commodity, and one of the worst affected by the trade war, fell 2.7 percent year-on-year in March, after having marked its first recovery in 15 months in February.

Although the demand for chips has increased for servers and data centers due to a large number of people teleworking, it has been affected by a slowdown in mobile and computer factories.

Income from petrochemical products, another important export commodity for South Korea, dropped nine percent year-on-year due to a sharp fall in oil prices and reduced demand from China, where many manufacturing units remain closed or are still to resume at full capacity following the impact of the coronavirus. EFE-EPA


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