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S.Korea April slowest export growth in 14 months, trade deficit widens – Metro US

S.Korea April slowest export growth in 14 months, trade deficit widens

Cranes and shipping containers are seen at Pyeongtaek port in
Cranes and shipping containers are seen at Pyeongtaek port in Pyeongtaek

SEOUL (Reuters) -South Korea’s exports grew at their slowest pace in 14 months in April, with the trade deficit widening as China-bound shipments shrank and rising energy and raw materials prices pushed up the country’s imports.

Exports grew 12.6% from a year earlier to $57.69 billion, trade ministry data showed on Sunday, the slowest since February 2021. It was below the forecast for 14.5% growth in a Reuters poll and slower than the 18.2% rise in March.

South Korea’s monthly trade data, the first to be released among major exporting economies, is considered a bellwether for global trade.

Exports to China, South Korea’s biggest trading partner, were hurt by Beijing’s zero-coronavirus policies, with lockdowns hitting industrial production and disrupting supply chains.

Shipments to China fell 3.4%, while those to the United States rose 26.4% and to the European Union increased 7.4%.

Exports of semiconductors, the country’s top foreign exchange earner, climbed 15.8%, while petrochemical products rose 6.8%. Outbound shipments of oil jumped 68.8% and steel products rose 21.1%. Imports increased 18.6% to $60.35 billion, led by a combined $14.81 billion worth of imports of crude oil, gas and coal.

That gave South Korea a trade deficit of $2.66 billion, wider than the March deficit of $115 million.

The export slowdown comes as the country battles red-hot inflation. The Bank of Korea last month raised its benchmark rate to the highest since August 2019 in a surprise move, expressing concerns that the economy is expected to miss the bank’s February growth forecast of 3% for this year.

(Reporting by Joori Roh; Editing by Chris Reese and William Mallard)

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