South Korea on Jan. 3 forecast a 10.4% rise in exports this year compared to 2006 despite an expected global economic slowdown and the won's rise against the dollar. The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said exports are expected to rise to $360 billion from $326 billion in 2006. It would be the fifth consecutive year for exports to grow at a double-digit rate.
This year's exports will be led by ships, cars and semiconductors. Ship exports may grow by 22%, cars and auto parts 13.3% and semiconductors 10.7%, the ministry reported. Slow growth was forecast in petrochemical exports and negative growth in textile and computer shipments.
Imports may grow 10.9% to $343 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $17 billion compared with a surplus of $16.7 billion in 2006, the ministry said.
The ministry cautioned that a slowdown in the global economy and the won's strength could undermine sales overseas. The won, which gained nearly 10% against the U.S. unit last year, may rise further as the U.S. maintains a weak dollar policy to reduce its trade deficit, the ministry said.
"Despite solid growth in China and India, the global economy this year may register slower growth than last year due to an expected slowdown in the U.S. economy," it added in a statement.
The nation's annual exports reached $300 billion for the first time in early December -- compared to just $22.3 million upon its founding in 1948.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007