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    South Korea logs record high exports, largest ever trade deficit in 2022

    ANN/THE KOREA HERALD – South Korea’s exports rose 6.1 per cent in 2022 from a year earlier to reach an all-time high, but it suffered the largest ever trade deficit on high global energy prices, the industry ministry said yesterday.

    Outbound shipments stood at USD683.9 billion last year, the largest annual figure since 1956, when the country began compiling trade related data, according to data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

    The previous record was set a year earlier with USD644.4 billion, the ministry said.

    The record exports were on the back of solid global demand for the country’s major export items, including semiconductors and petro products, as well as the largest-ever sales of electric vehicles and secondary cells.

    Imports spiked 18.9 per cent on-year to USD731.2 billion last year, resulting in a trade deficit of USD47.2 billion.

    It is the first time since 2008 that the country suffered a trade deficit, and the shortfall is more than double of the previous record deficit of USD20.62 billion logged in 1996.

    South Korea depends on imports for most of its energy needs, and the country’s energy imports surged more than 40 per cent on-year to USD190.8 billion in 2022.

    For December, monthly exports fell 9.5 per cent on-year to stand at USD54.99 billion, extending the losing streak to the third consecutive month. Imports went down 2.4 per cent on-year last month to USD59.68 billion, and the monthly trade deficit came to USD4.69 billion.

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

    The country is forecast to see a 4.5-per-cent fall in exports in 2023 on a global economic slowdown and weak chip prices, ringing an alarm over its growth momentum.

    The government vowed all-out efforts to prop up exports by extending trade financing and devising strategies to expand its market presence in emerging markets and resources-rich nations.

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