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S. Korea's exports down 16.6 pct in January; trade deficit hits record high

09:07 February 01, 2023

SEOUL, Feb. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports logged an on-year decline for the fourth consecutive month in January on weak global demand for semiconductors and other items amid an economic slowdown, the industry ministry said Wednesday.

The country also suffered the largest ever monthly trade deficit on high energy prices last month, deepening concerns over the country's economic growth momentum.

Outbound shipments fell 16.6 percent on-year to come to US$46.27 billion in January, following a 9.5 percent on-year fall the previous month, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

It is the first time since early 2020 that exports fell for four consecutive months.

Imports fell 2.6 percent on-year to $58.96 billion in January, resulting in a trade deficit of an all-time monthly high of $12.69 billion.

Imports have exceeded exports in South Korea since April last year, and it is the first time since 1997 that the country has suffered a trade deficit for 11 straight months.

South Korea depends on imports for most of its energy needs, and the country's energy imports came to $15.8 billion in January, accounting for 26.8 percent of its total imports, the ministry said.

This photo taken Jan. 10, 2023, shows stacks of containers at a port in South Korea's southeastern city of Busan. (Yonhap)


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