South Korea is expected to edge past Hong Kong to become the 11th largest trading nation in the world this year, the Seoul government agency Yonhap reported on Friday.
The SK Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said the value of the country's two-way trade will likely reach 719 billion US dollars by the end of the year, up from 634.9 billion in 2006, when South Korea ranked 12th in terms of international trade volume. The aggregate of exports and imports expanded an average 14% during the first eight months of 2007, compared with the 9.4% of Hong Kong which in 2006 had an overall trade volume of 651.5 billion US dollars. The Commerce ministry said that foreign trade growth in SK was only second to China's. SK needed seven years, 2000/2007 to jump from an annual 300 billion US dollars to 700 billion US dollars in overall trade. The report also points out that the US, Germany, France and Japan needed an average 26 years to reach that level of trade. Ministry of Commerce estimates forecast that the figure will jump to over a trillion US dollars by 2011, at the current growth rate. The figure is particularly significant for Seoul since with the exception of China all other countries with that volume and value on international trade have an average per capita income above 30.000 US dollars. Exports in 2008 are expected to exceed 410.9 billion, expanding 11%, while imports are forecasted to reach 395.1 billion, a 12.8% expansion. Yonhap also anticipates that according to local think-tanks, the country's GDP will grow 5% in 2008 boosted by domestic demand and corporate investment. Expansion in the first half of next year is estimated in 5.2%, slowing down to 4.8% in the second half. The current account balance sheet in 2008 will run a deficit of 2.9 billion US dollars ending ten years of consecutive surplus years. Soaring oil prices, the weakening U.S. dollar and global financial turmoil stemming from the U.S. subprime mortgage woes posed growing threats to world economic growth and those factors show no signs of receding quickly in 2008,