South Korea's exports are likely to have extended their slump to an eighth month in July by falling nearly 10 percent from a year earlier, a poll showed Monday, due mainly to the prolonged trade row between the United States and China.
Outbound shipments are estimated to reach US$46.6 billion last month, down from $51.8 posted a year earlier, according to the poll conducted by Yonhap Infomax, a financial information service arm of Yonhap News Agency, on 10 local financial companies.
The Korea Customs Service earlier said South Korea's exports plunged 13.6 percent on-year in the first 20 days of July driven by a decline in outbound shipments of semiconductors and petrochemical goods.
The trade surplus of the month is estimated at $4.77 billion, the poll showed, marking 90 straight months in which the country's exports have exceeded imports.
Market watchers said exports of chips and petrochemical products might have continued to lose ground in July, although the overall decrease was limited by sound performances of automobiles and mobile devices.
On top of the Washington-Beijing trade row, the latest dispute with Japan centering on restrictions of exports of key industrial materials also dampened the recovery of exports, analysts said.
"While uncertainties from the trade row between Washington and China limited global trade, Japan's export restriction against South Korea further weighed on the market's concerns," said Chun Kyu-yeon, a researcher at Hana Financial Investment.
Early this month, Japan implemented strict regulations for exports of three key materials to South Korea, which are crucial for the production of chips and displays, on the grounds that Seoul runs a lax system for the control of goods that can be diverted for military purposes.
South Korea refuted Japan's claims, saying the move is an economic retaliation against a Seoul court ruling that ordered Japanese firms to compensate victims of forced labor during Tokyo's 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
"The discord between Seoul and Tokyo may delay the rebound of South Korea's exports in the second half," said Park Sang-hyun, a researcher from Hi Investment & Securities Co., claiming the factor will play a decisive role in the recovery of the country's outbound shipments.