South Korea yesterday sharply lowered its forecast for exports this year, citing tougher internal and external conditions and volatility in the foreign exchange rate.
Exports will be worth US$365 billion this year, down 13.5 percent from US$422 billion a year earlier, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in its new forecast.
Imports will decline 20 percent to US$347.5 billion, it said.
At the start of this year the ministry had projected exports to rise 1.1 percent to US$426.7 billion and imports to fall 4.7 percent to US$414.8 billion.
The bleaker export outlook was reported to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak at a meeting of trading company executives and policymakers.
Lee said there is still a long way to go before the export-driven economy recovers.
“There are some positive aspects but I believe we still stand somewhere in the middle of a long tunnel,” he said.
South Korea will be “particularly vulnerable to the further downturn of the global economy,” Lee said.
Asia’s fourth-largest economy has shown tentative signs of improving recently.
The central bank last week forecast that GDP rose 0.2 percent in the first quarter from three months earlier, after falling 5.1 percent in the last quarter of last year.
The country recorded its largest ever monthly trade surplus of US$4.6 billion last month as the value of imports fell more sharply than exports.
Exports in January fell by a record 33.8 percent year-on-year.
The decline was 17.1 percent in February and 21.2 percent last month.