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S. Korea showing signs of export recovery: finance minister

June 2, 2023 - 10:21 By Yonhap
Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho speaks during a meeting with economy-related ministers held in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)

South Korean exports are showing some signs of a recovery on the back of rising demand from China and increasing outbound shipments of semiconductors, the finance minister said Friday.

South Korea's exports fell for an eighth consecutive month in May, reaching $52.24 billion, down 15.2 percent on-year, government data showed this week. The decline mostly came as exports of semiconductors sank 36.2 percent on-year on falling demand and a drop in chip prices.

"Exports for May fell by two digits, but there were also some positive signs," Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho said during a meeting with economy-related ministers. "Exports to China, which have been considered some of the major drags on outbound shipments, reached the highest level for this year."

Shipments to China, the top trading partner of Asia's No. 4 economy, came to $10.62 billion in May, up 11.5 percent from a month earlier.

Choo also noted it is significant that export volume of semiconductors increased compared with April, despite the falling global prices.

The daily average export volume in May also surpassed $2.4 billion for the first time since October last year thanks to increased overseas sales of automobiles and rechargeable batteries, with the trend anticipated to continue down the road, Choo added.

During the meeting, Choo noted that South Korea will continue to expand economic partnerships with major countries to revitalize exports, including those with the United Arab Emirates.

The remark came after a UAE delegation, including officials from four state-owned funds, visited South Korea last month to explore business opportunities in sectors that include energy and biotechnology.

The visit was arranged as a follow-up step after President Yoon Suk Yeol and UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan met in January when the Middle East nation announced its decision to invest $30 billion in South Korea.

"Having laid the groundwork for the UAE's investment in South Korea, we have taken the initial step toward full-fledged investment. We will focus on enhancing cooperation to facilitate speeding up the inflow of UAE investment funds into the country," Choo said.

South Korea will continue efforts to engage in global partnerships, including the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, he added.

Touching on economic ties with Japan, the finance minister said South Korea will restore dialogue channels with Tokyo in areas including chips, energy, and science technologies, and seek partnerships to jointly tap new opportunities in other countries.

The bilateral relationship soured in 2019, as Japan imposed export curbs against South Korea in retaliation against the 2018 South Korean Supreme Court rulings ordering Japanese firms to compensate South Korean victims of forced labor during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Relations between South Korea and Japan began to thaw this year after Yoon offered to resolve the forced labor issue by compensating victims on South Korea's own without asking for contributions from Japan. (Yonhap)