Exports Drop 20% for 2nd Month

Korea’s exports have dropped another 20 percent. According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Monday, exports in May fell 23.7 percent on-year to US$34.9 billion. In April exports fell 25.1 percent.

The last time exports declined more than 20 percent for two months running was in July and August of 2009, during the global financial crisis.

Total imports in May fell 21.1 percent to $34.4 billion, so Korea posted a $440 million trade surplus and is back in the black.

Containers are loaded for shipment at a pier in Busan on Monday. /Yonhap

Outbound shipments fell across the board with 16 out of Korea’s top 20 exports declining. The most dramatic declines were petroleum products (down 69.9 percent), automotive components (down 66.7 percent), cars (down 54.1 percent) and textiles (down 43.5 percent).

Car exports took a huge hit from the coronavirus epidemic in major markets including North America and Europe. Petroleum product exports also suffered from lockdowns and falling prices.

But semiconductor exports rose 7.1 percent, ships 35.9 percent, computers 82.7 percent and bio-health products 59.4 percent. Increasing demand for computer parts was due to more telecommuting, video conferencing and online shopping amid the epidemic. Bio-health product exports grew, because of rising demand for quarantine and medical products.

The government hopes exports will rebound if the epidemic eases, but experts think a recovery is unlikely anytime soon because the competitiveness of Korea’s key exports was weakening even before the epidemic.

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