Korean exports showed double-digit growth in January, 2013 from the same month of last year when exports had reached the one-year low. Nevertheless, it is predicted that Korean exporters will have a hard time this year due to the on-going concerns about the global economic recession and the falling exchange rates.
The Ministry of Knowledge Economy said on February 1 that the January exports amounted to US$ 46,085 million, up 11.8% year-on-year, recording double-digit growth in 11 months.
In January last year when concerns over deterioration of the European fiscal crisis culminated, the nation’s exports were freezing. To make matters worse, the official Lunar New Year holidays continued for four days from Saturday, and many exporting companies granted extra holidays for one or two days to their employees. As a result, last year’s January exports recorded only US$ 41,210 million, the lowest of the year.
Thus, at a time when the foreign exchange rates are in a downward trend and the global economy still remains depressed, it is not sensible to interpret the one-time double digit export growth as a green signal for upcoming export expansion, said the Ministry.
Rather, the Ministry worried that the recently falling won-dollar and won-yen exchange rates might undermine the exporters’ competitiveness and profitability this year, even with the year-on-year export growth in January.
Many industries showed an upward curve in their exports on a year-on-year basis for the first month of this year; wireless communication devices (up 32.8%), automobiles (24.3%),
petrochemicals (17.8%), textile (17.4%), LCD (16.4%), petroleum products (11.7%), semiconductors (6.4%) and general machinery (3.2%). On the other hand, some industries recorded negative export growth for the same period; steel and iron (- 8.0%) and shipbuilding (- 19.9%).
The nation’s imports stood at US$ 45,211 million for the same period of this year, up 3.9% year-on-year. The nation recorded US$ 874 million of trade surplus in January, 2013.