SEOUL: South Korea’s exports fell last year at their fastest rate since the global financial crisis, with 12 straight monthly declines fuelled by a strong won and plunging oil prices.
The government data published on Friday is a grim annual report for a country whose exports account for roughly half of its economic output.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said exports were down 7.9 percent from the previous year at $527.2 billion—the sharpest annual decline since 2009.
Outbound shipments plunged 13.8 percent in December alone, the ministry said.
A host of factors have contributed to the export downturn, including the rise of the South Korean won against Japan’s yen, while its biggest trading partner China has embarked on a series of devaluations of its yuan currency.
Low global oil prices have also been a major factor, hitting petroleum products that are a crucial export for Asia’s fourth largest economy.
Exports of oil and petrochemical products dropped 37 percent and 21 percent respectively in 2015, the ministry said.
It added that a “mild recovery” was expected in 2016, although downside risks also existed, such as a further slowdown in emerging markets and a steeper drop in oil prices.