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Korea Vows All-out Efforts to Fight Trade Deficit

Experiencing a trade deficit for more than 13 consecutive months, South Korea will make pangovernmental efforts to lead a turnaround in trade, introducing support programs to foster key industries, the Trade Ministry said Monday.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said it held a trade inspection meeting in Seoul with related government agencies to find ways to deal with the continuing fall in trade.

“While the country logged a massive trade deficit in January, the balance is gradually recovering. We need to make more efforts to expand export and improve energy efficiency for a turnaround,” Trade Minister Lee Chang-yang said.

“We should push harder for speedy execution of the budget and to offer close support to address difficulties industries face.”

Amid a global economic slowdown and weak demand, the country witnessed its export fall for the sixth consecutive months in March.

Outbound shipments recorded $55.1 billion in the month, down 13.6 percent on-year, according to the ministry. Imports declined by 6.4 percent on-year to record $59.7 billion, resulting in a monthly trade deficit of $4.62 billion.

In January, the country witnessed a record deficit in trade, with exports logging $46.2 billion, down 16.6 percent on-year. The trade deficit recorded an all-time monthly high of $12.69 billion in the month.

The combined export volume of the past three months is $151.5 billion. For the government to achieve this year’s export goal of $685 billion, the country has to report at a monthly average of $59.3 billion in exports until December.

The ministry attributed the weak trade performance to the steep decline in semiconductor exports, which declined 34.5 percent in March on-year as the global chip market suffers from prolonged falling demand and chip prices.

In a bid to raise the export volume, the government agreed to make full-fledged efforts and to come up with policies to foster key industries.

South Korea has announced the National Strategic Technology Nurture Plan, aimed at fostering six strategic industries — semiconductors, batteries, displays, robots, biopharmeceuticals and mobility — and helping them maintain a technological and competitive edge in the global market.

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