SEOUL, Sept. 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports are expected to remain sluggish in the fourth quarter of the year amid high oil prices and weak overseas demand, a trade body said Wednesday.
The Korea International Trade Association (KITA) said its export business survey index (EBSI) came to 90.2 for the October-December period, down from 108.7 three months earlier.
A reading below 100 means pessimists outnumber optimists, while a reading above the benchmark means the opposite. The survey was carried out on around 2,000 exporting companies.
The figures were 90.9 in the second quarter and 81.8 in the first three months of the year.
KITA said a recent surge in international oil prices may lead to flagging global demand, high raw materials prices and an economic slowdown, exacerbating South Korea's export conditions.
International prices are on track to reach US$100 per barrel soon after breaching the $90 level recently.
According to the survey, the EBSI for all of the major 15 export items hovered below the benchmark 100, with that for plastic, rubber and leather products standing at the lowest 69.5
The reading for autos and auto parts, whose exports have recently reached record levels, came to 77.4 for the coming quarter, with the figure for semiconductors reaching 99.3.
South Korea's exports have remained in the doldrums amid flaccid overseas demand for its products, especially chips.
The country's overseas shipments shrank 7.9 percent on-year in the first 10 days of September following an 8.4 percent drop in August, which marked the 11th straight month of decline.