South Korea posted a trade deficit for the first time

South Korea posted a trade deficit for the first time in two years in January as its exports shrank, affected by toughening external market conditions, the customs office said on Wednesday.

The country’s trade deficit came to about US$ 2 billion last month, a turnaround from a surplus of $ 2.3 billion tallied in the previous month, the Korea Customs Service (KCS) said in a report. The trade balance swung into the red for the first time since January 2010.

Exports fell 7 percent on-year to $ 41.3 billion, while imports rose 3.3 percent over the same period to $ 43.4 billion, the report showed.

The decline in exports was caused mostly by ships and mobile communications equipment, whose sales plunged 43.7 percent and 30.7 percent, respectively. Seasonal factors such as fewer working days caused by the Lunar New Year holiday also played a part.

Exports to the European Union shrank 37.9 percent on-year to $ 3.9 billion in January, affected by worsening market conditions in debt-ridden eurozone countries.

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