South Korea exports show sharpest decline for six years in 2015

 01 Jan 2016 - 16:10

South Korea exports show sharpest decline for six years in 2015
South Korean couples take a selfie photograph in front of a traditional pavilion during a countdown event to celebrate the New Year at Imjingak peace park in the border city of Paju near the demilitarized zone dividing the two Koreas on December 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE


Seoul: South Korea's exports fell last year at their fastest rate since the global financial crisis, with 12 straight monthly declines fuelled by a strong won and plunging oil prices.

The government data published Friday is a grim annual report for a country whose exports account for roughly half of its economic output.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said exports were down 7.9 percent from the previous year at $527.2 billion -- the sharpest annual decline since 2009.

Outbound shipments plunged 13.8 percent in December alone, the ministry said.

A host of factors have contributed to the export downturn, including the rise of the South Korean won against Japan's yen, while its biggest trading partner China has embarked on a series of devaluations of its yuan currency.

Low global oil prices have also been a major factor, hitting petroleum products that are a crucial export for Asia's fourth largest economy.

Exports of oil and petrochemical products dropped 37 percent and 21 percent respectively in 2015, the ministry said.

It added that a "mild recovery" was expected in 2016, although downside risks also existed, such as a further slowdown in emerging markets and a steeper drop in oil prices.