SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- South Korean exports tumbled a record 32.8 percent in January as shipments of everything from automobiles to wireless communication equipment fell, a government report said Monday.
The drop in exports to $21.7 billion was the steepest since South Korea began collecting and announcing monthly tallies of exports and imports in 1980, said Nam Kyung-tak, an official at the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.
The decline is dragging on South Korea's economy, which shrank 3.4 percent in the fourth quarter, its first contraction in a decade.
Imports fell 32.1 percent to about $24.7 billion, giving South Korea a trade deficit of about $2.9 billion, a report from the ministry said. South Korea had an annual trade deficit last year for the first time since 1998 amid high oil prices and global financial turmoil, Nam said.
Exports would likely continue to drop for awhile amid weakening demand from China, the United States, Japan and Hong Kong, the ministry said.