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Korea's exports to China tumble 15.7% in Q1

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South Korea suffered a 15.7 percent fall in exports to China in the first quarter this year, data showed Sunday, deepening its overall trade woes.

It marks the biggest drop in seven years in South Korea's outbound shipments to China, its single biggest market. China accounts for about 25 percent of South Korea's total exports.

Exports to China stood at $28.5 billion in the year's first three months, down 15.7 percent from a year earlier, according to the Korea International Trade Association (KITA).

By item, exports of semiconductors, flat panel displays, petrochemical products, car parts and synthetic resins recorded notable declines.

Experts cited a structural problem and suggested a shift in trade strategy.

"Over 70 percent of South Korean goods exported to China are intermediate goods. China's demand for those is diminishing," said Park Jin-woo, head of KITA's strategic market research office. "In particular, China is making massive investments and expanding facilities in such sectors as semiconductors, while reducing imports."

He stressed the need for targeting the consumer goods market instead.

South Korea's exports to the United States also sank 3.3 percent on-year to $16.8 billion in the January-March period and imports were down 4.9 percent to $10.1 billion.

Trade with Japan remains in trouble as well. Exports fell 13.1 percent to $5.5 billion, representing a double-digit drop for the sixth consecutive quarter, and imports dwindled 11.2 percent to $10.6 billion.

In contrast, exports to Vietnam, which has emerged as South Korea's third-largest exports market, maintained an upward trend. Exports grew 7.6 percent to $7 billion, although growth rates showed signs of slowing. (Yonhap)

Park Si-soo

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