South Korea’s exports to fall 6.4% in 2019: top industry body

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s largest association of trading firms on Thursday sharply downgraded its forecast for this year’s exports to a steep fall from a modest gain, blaming the U.S.-China trade standoff for the grim outlook.

Overseas sales from Asia’s fourth-largest economy are now expected to drop 6.4% in 2019 from last year, a reversal from its previous projection of a 3.0% rise, the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) said in a statement.

Such a decline would mark the worst performance since an 8.0% slide in exports in 2015.

The association also blamed a delayed recovery in the global semiconductor industry for the deterioration in exports.

Exports of memory chips, South Korea’s main export product, are expected to plunge 21.1% in value this year, it said, a sharp turnaround from a 5.0% rise seen in its previous projection made in November last year.

Imports this year were predicted to fall 4.1%, compared with its previous forecast of a 3.7% rise.

(Reporting by Joori Roh; Editing by Choonsik Yoo & Shri Navaratnam)