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Korea's Exports to Middle East Rise 14.1 pct by October
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South Korea's exports to the Middle East rose 14.1 percent in the first 10 months of the year from a year earlier thanks to strengthened consumption power in the oil-rich region, customs data showed Sunday.

According to the data by the Korea Customs Service (KTS), shipments of South Korean products to Middle East countries rose 14.1 percent to US$30.3 billion in the January-October period, compared with last year's annual volume of $32.8 billion.

However, shipments to the European Union and Japan shrank 11.7 percent on-year and 0.6 percent, respectively, with the growth of exports to the United States slowing to 5.3 percent, said the KTS data.

South Korea's overall exports for the 10-month period fell 1.3 percent on-year to $455.4 billion.

"The recent global slowdown made world consumption decrease but thanks to higher oil prices, Middle East consumers tended to raise their spending," said an official from the KTS.

For October alone, South Korea's exports to Libya skyrocketed 1,004.1 percent from a year ago, while shipments to Saudi Arabia and Egypt rose 57.2 percent and 8.8 percent, respectively, according to the KTS data.

Shipments of automobiles jumped 23.3 percent on-year to reach $6.86 billion for the January-September period, and industrial facilities for heating and cooling also soared 67.2 percent on-year.

The KTS data noted that the rise in exports to the Middle East helped South Korea make up for its trade deficit with the oil-rich region.

The trade deficit with the region came to $75 billion over the same period, down $2.97 billion from a year ago, as South Korea's imports of crude oil from the Middle East grew a relatively lower 7.1 percent on-year. The country, the world's fifth-largest crude buyer, relies entirely on imports for its oil needs.

"Despite continuous political unrest in the region, its economy is unlikely to suffer a sudden slowdown," said the KTS. "Shipments to the Middle East are expected to lead the country's trade for a while."

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Source: Yonhap News (Nov. 18, 2012)

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