SEOUL: South Korea’s exports are expected to remain sluggish during the first quarter of this year due to slowing growth in major markets and falling price competitiveness, a poll showed Thursday.
The country’s leading export sentiment index came to 50 for the January-March period, up 1.4 from the previous quarter, according to the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA).
A reading above 50 means optimists outnumber pessimists, while a reading below the mark means the opposite. The latest index is largely based on a survey of 2,269 foreign buyers and businessmen stationed overseas.
The Q1 reading shows a slight improvement from the previous quarter but it did not improve much, indicating exporters remain cautious about the market outlook down the road. Behind the cautious stance lie worries over unstable economic conditions in major export markets along with the weakening global price competitiveness of Korean products.
The poll shows that the index for economic conditions in major export markets stays low at 46. The readings for Europe, the Middle East and Africa were all gauged below the 50 mark. The depreciating euro also has exporters worried about price competitiveness, with a corresponding index of 46.6 according to the poll.