Middle East contributes most to Korea’s trade deficit

The Middle East contributed the most to South Korea’s all-time high trade deficit for the first seven months of the year

state data showed Wednesday, reflecting the export-driven economy‘s ongoing high reliance on crude oil.

According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Korea suffered a cumulative deficit of $51.7 billion in trade with countries in the Middle East during the period of January-July.

The figure was 244 percent higher than the nation’s total trade deficit of $15 billion in global trade over the corresponding period.

The $15 billion marked a record high when comparing past January-July periods since the nation started compiling the relevant data in 1956.

The situation was attributed to a spike in international crude prices. Dubai crude is one of Korea’s main import items.

For monthly figures, Korea’s trade deficit with the Middle East surpassed the $10 billion mark for the first time in July

which was 115 percent higher than the nation’s cumulative deficit of $4.67 billion in the same month.

The new record eclipsed the $8.7 billion in trade deficit with the Middle East that was posted in February 2013.

In July, imports from the region surged by 111 percent to $11.5 billion

while growth in exports to the region stayed at 11.7 percent or $1.4 billion.