South Korea’s exports plunged 24.3 percent in April from a year earlier as the country suffered from a double whammy of the new coronavirus pandemic and the falling oil prices, data showed.
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Outbound shipments came to $36.9 billion last month, compared with US$48.7 billion posted a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
Imports moved down 15.9 percent on-year in April to US$37.8 billion.
The country suffered a trade deficit of US$950 million in April, snapping its 98 straight months of having more exports than imports.
The COVID-19 pandemic that has further made its way across the globe over the month has clobbered the supply chain, with lockdowns and social-distancing drives hindering business activities around the world.
The falling global price of oil has also weighed down exports of petrochemical products, some of the country’s key export items.
South Korea also attributed the weak outbound shipments to the fewer number of working days in the month compared to a year earlier, along with a higher base effect.
Exports of biohealth products, however, shot up 29 percent over the period amid soaring demand for South Korean test kits for COVID-19. Outbound shipments of computers also doubled on-year as more people worked from home, the data showed.
By destinations, its outbound shipments lost ground in all major countries due to the pandemic, including China, the United States, and Europe.
Monthly exports rebounded 4.5 percent in February on-year to end their 14 months of decrease despite increasing virus fallout.
But the country’s exports fell 0.2 percent in the following month.
South Korea’s exports dropped more than 10 percent in 2019.
The country’s outbound shipments had been anticipated to rebound 3 percent this year on the eased trade war between the United States and China. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has dashed such hope.
The country’s economy grew 2 percent last year, the lowest in a decade. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted last month South Korea’s economy will shrink 1.2 percent this year, a sharp cut from 2.2 percent growth suggested in January.
The virus has infected more than 3 million around the world so far, although the number of new infections slowed in South Korea.
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The country added only four cases, compared with a peak of 909 on 29th February, indicating the recovery of its exports will depend on how effectively other countries tackle the pandemic and normalize the supply chain.
(Source: Korea Herald)