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(LEAD) Exports up 23.2 pct during first 10 days of Aug.; trade deficit widens

09:36 August 11, 2022

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details throughout)

SEOUL, Aug. 11 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports jumped 23.2 percent on-year in the first 10 days of August on robust demand for petroleum products and autos, but the country saw its trade deficit widen on soaring fuel costs, data showed Thursday.

The country's outbound shipments stood at US$15.7 billion in the Aug. 1-10 period, compared with $12.7 billion a year earlier, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service.

Imports grew 34.1 percent on-year to $23.4 billion during the cited period, resulting in a trade deficit of $7.68 billion. The trade deficit was larger than a shortfall of $4.69 billion the previous year.

This file photo taken July 11, 2022, shows stacks of containers at a port in South Korea's southeastern city of Busan. (Yonhap)

If the current trend continues, South Korea is likely to post a trade deficit for the fifth straight month in August due mainly to high energy costs driven by the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.

Exports, which account for half of the economy, rose 9.4 percent on-year in July, marking the 21st consecutive month of growth. But the country suffered a trade deficit for the fourth straight month as high oil and commodity prices pushed up the country's import bills.

Imports of crude oil jumped 50.1 percent during the first 10 days of August, and those of coal also soared 162.5 percent. South Korea heavily relies on imports for most of its energy needs.

By sector, exports of petroleum products jumped 177 percent on-year in the cited period and shipments of autos soared 191.9 percent despite a chronic shortage of auto chips. Autos accounted for some 7 percent of South Korea's exports.

But exports of semiconductors, a key export item, declined 5.1 percent on-year. Semiconductors accounted for about 20 percent of South Korea's exports.

By country, exports to China, South Korea's largest trading partner, fell 2.8 percent, while those to the United States increased 17.5 percent.

South Korea logged a trade deficit of $890 million with China during the first 10 days of August. If the current trend goes on, the country may post a trade deficit with China for the fourth straight month in August.

In June, the government forecast Asia's fourth-largest economy to grow 2.6 percent this year and inflation to spike 4.7 percent.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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