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(LEAD) S. Korea expects exports to extend winning streak in July

2017/07/17 16:28

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(ATTN: UPDATES with details and background)

SEOUL, July 17 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports are expected to extend their winning streak for a ninth consecutive month in July, helped by strong shipments of semiconductors, ships and petrochemical products, officials said Monday.

The outlook came after a monthly meeting between government officials and business representatives on exports, led by Lee In-ho, vice minister at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

During the gathering, representatives from business organizations expected exports to continue to rise this month as the global economy shows robust signs of a recovery.

However, the vice minister cautioned it will be difficult to be too optimistic about the outlook for exports moving forward, citing the recent slowdown in gains of oil prices and global protectionist trends by certain countries.

The nation's exports came to US$51.4 billion in June, up from $45.2 billion tallied a year earlier, according to ministry data.

Lee said South Korea will seek to make inroads into ASEAN and India as part of efforts to diversify its export markets and to get more small and medium-sized companies to expand abroad.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore and Vietnam.

The vice minister also said South Korea is preparing for potential trade issues with the U.S. and China as well as non-tariff barriers and import restrictions, though no details were given.

The U.S. could take an unspecified action against South Korean steel products in coming weeks as U.S. President Donald Trump claimed that steel is a big problem.

"They're dumping steel and destroying our steel industry, they've been doing it for decades, and I'm stopping it. It'll stop," Trump said on board Air Force One en route to France last week, in an apparent reference to South Korea and other steel exporters.

In April, Trump ordered a probe into whether steel imports undermine U.S. national security.

The Trump administration invoked Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, a rarely used tool that allows emergency trade sanctions on "national security" grounds. The move was widely seen as a precursor to fresh trade barriers to foreign steel imports.

The commerce secretary has 270 days to complete the investigation, but Trump said it can be done in 50 days.

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