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Economy in Brief

South Korean Exports Plummet: Sharp Fall in Exports to Pacific Rim
by Louise Curley February 2, 2009

South Korea announced today that its January exports fell 32.7% below a year ago, the largest year to year percentage decline on record. Except for September 2007, when exports fell 1.1%, Korea's exports have shown double digit year to year percent increases in practically every month since July 2002 until November of last year when double digit declines began to appear, as shown in the first chart.

Imports have also declined, but at a somewhat slower pace with the results that the ten year stretch of South Korean trade surpluses begun in 1998 has come to a stop. There was a $12.7 billion trade deficit in 2008, compared with a surplus of $14.6 billion in 2007. Annual data for exports, imports and balances of trade from 1998 through 2008 are shown in the second chart.

South Korea  Jan 09 Dec 08 Nov  08  Oct 08  Sep 08  Aug 08 July 08 2008 2007
Exports (NSA, Bil US$) 21.7 27.3 29.2 37.4 39.1 36.6 41.0 422.9 371.5
Imports (NSA, Bil US$) 24.7 26.8 28.9 35.8 39.4 40.1 43.7 435.6 356.9
Balance (NSA, Bil US$) -3.0 0.7 0.3 1.2 -2.2 -3.8 -2.0 -12.7 14.6
Exports (Y/Y % Chg -32.8 -17.4 -18.2 8.53 27.7 18.2 35.6 14.1 13.8
Imports (Y/Y % Chg -32.1 -21.5 -14.7 10.4 45.8 36.4 47.4 15.4 22.1
Exports to US Y/Y % Chg -- -9.4 -14.3 5.0 19.3 1.0 9.3 11.5 18.0
  To China Y/Y % Chg -- -36.4 -33.7 -3.5 15.0 19.3 30.1 3.2 10.6
  To Taiwan Y/Y % Chg             -- -56.9 -45.2 -17.0 1.3 -15.0 -1.4 -12.0 0.2
  To Malaysia Y/Y % Chg -- -30.5 -21.4 -24.8 8.2 10.8 27.6 1.6 9.1
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