SEOUL, July 1 (Xinhua) — South Korea logged the highest first-half trade deficit this year on faster growth in import than export, caused by higher commodity prices, government data showed Friday.
Trade deficit amounted to 10.3 billion U.S. dollars for the first six months of this year, topping the previous high of 9.16 billion dollars tallied in the first half of 1997, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
Export rose 15.6 percent from a year earlier to 350.3 billion dollars in the first half, while import surged 26.2 percent to 360.6 billion dollars.
The outbound shipment hit a record half-year figure, surpassing the prior high of 341.3 billion dollars registered in the second half of last year.
Among 15 major export items, eight posted a double-digit expansion in the January-June period.
Semiconductor export jumped 20.8 percent to 69.02 billion dollars, and oil products shipment spiked 89.3 percent to 30.38 billion dollars.
Export for petrochemicals, steel, display panels, mobile devices, computers, and bio-health products grew in double figures in the first half.
Shipment to China, South Korea’s biggest trading partner, gained 6.9 percent to 81.38 billion dollars in the first half, and export to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) soared 31.8 percent to 64.72 billion dollars.
Export to the United States went up 18.2 percent to 54.96 billion dollars, and shipment to the European Union (EU) added 8.2 percent to 34.02 billion dollars.
Import grew faster than export on higher raw materials prices, driven by geopolitical risks in Europe and the global supply chain disruptions.
Import for crude oil, natural gas and coal, the country’s three major energy sources, advanced 87.5 percent from a year earlier to 87.86 billion dollars in the first half.
Dubai crude, South Korea’s benchmark, averaged 101.83 dollars per barrel in the January-June period, up 60 percent from the same period of last year.
In June alone, the country’s trade deficit reached 2.47 billion dollars, staying in red for the third consecutive month since April.
It marked the first time in 14 years since 2008 that South Korea registered trade deficit for three months in a row.
Export grew 5.4 percent from a year earlier to 57.73 billion dollars in June, while import soared 19.4 percent to 60.2 billion dollars.
The outbound shipment kept rising for 20 straight months, but it ended the double-digit increase in 16 months.
Semiconductors, oil products, steel and bio-health products logged the highest June export, but automotive export reduced 2.7 percent on walkout by truck drivers.
Shipment for general machinery, home appliances and ships declined in double digits last month.
Export to China diminished 0.8 percent over the year to 12.97 billion dollars in June, and those to the United States, the EU and ASEAN grew to 9.78 billion dollars, 5.33 billion dollars and 10.25 billion dollars respectively.
Import for crude oil, natural gas and coal came to 13.73 billion dollars in June, up 63.6 percent from a year earlier.