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S. Korea unlikely to see double-digit export growth for some time
SEOUL, Dec. 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will have a tough time realizing double-digit growth in its exports "for the time being," a trade association chairman said, citing slumping economic conditions caused by the eurozone debt problems.

   The gloomy forecast was made by Han Duck-soo, chairman of the Korea International Trade Association, during a meeting with reporters Thursday, but embargoed until Sunday morning.

   "For the time being, it would be difficult for Korea to see its exports grow by double digits just as seen in 2011," Han told reporters. "The global economic slump prompted by the eurozone fiscal crisis could drag on for at least three years."

   In particular, he pointed out the high debt ratios of major European countries, saying they will not likely drop below 120 percent of their gross domestic product for about 10 years, a drag he worried could weigh on the global economy for some time.

   His remarks come as South Korea has suffered from slowing export growth caused by declining demand for its goods in overseas markets. The growth of overseas shipments has remained a single digit.

   On Saturday, the government announced that exports grew 3.9 percent in November from the same month last year, to US$47.79 billion.

   The trade association forecast the country's exports would amount to $549.6 billion this year and would grow 4.6 percent to $575 billion next year.

   Its imports, meanwhile, were expected to expand 4.8 percent on-year to $545 billion.

   The projections are based on the assumption the economy, Asia's fourth-largest, will grow about 3.5 percent next year, with won-dollar exchange rates moving within a stable range, it explained.

   Han, a former ambassador to the U.S., said for South Korea to successfully get over its current challenges, the country must return to basics, and called for companies to make high-quality products and the government to play its role of "supporting" businesses.