South Korea Records Worst Trade Deficit in History as Exports Fall

South Korea declared a trade deficit of $47.5 billion in 2022, as shown by the official data from the customs agency. It was the worst trade deficit since the customs agency started collecting data in 1956 and more than the trade deficit in 1996 at $20.6 billion.

In January, exports dropped by $46.3 billion or 16.6%, more than the expected drop of 11.3%. Meanwhile, imports fell by $59 billion or 2.6%, which was less than expectations of 3.6%. That resulted in a deficit of $12.7 billion in January, which was more than the expectations of Reuters’ economist poll for a $9.27 billion deficit.

Choo Kyung-ho, South Korea’s minister of economy and finance, stated in the meeting with authorities that there were some expectations for the global economy not facing the difficult situation as forecast, and, thanks to the reopening of China, also for the economic growth of the surrounding area, which was not expected.

The trade deficit expanded in January due to seasonal factors like energy exports for the winter, as rapidly falling chip prices led to a terrible outlook, said Choo.

Research firm Canalys said that the global smartphone shipment declined 18% to 296.9 million units in Q4/22 due to lower demand.

On Tuesday, chipmaker Samsung Electronics reported its lowest quarterly profit in eight years, while SK Hynix reported a record loss for the period.