South Korean exports to Iran fell sharply this year after the United States re-imposed sanctions on the Middle East state after walking out of an international nuclear deal.
The Korea International Trade Association (KITA) said on Friday that from January through August outbound shipments to Iran dropped by 21.9 percent to $2.08 billion. Imports also tumbled by 23.7 percent to $4.05 billion, leading to a deficit of $1.98 billion. The contraction stood out in August when Washington resumed so-called secondary sanctions on countries doing business with Iran targeting autos, gold, steel and coal products from Aug. 7.
Korea’s August exports to Iran were $140 million, down 41.8 percent from July, with imports from the country plunging 67.8 percent to $160 million.
All of key exporting items of Asia`s fourth-largest economy were hit: passenger vehicles (-29.4 percent), boiler machinery (-14.5 percent), plastics (-34.7 percent) and steel products (-93.6 percent).
The bilateral trade is expected to take a further toll as the U.S. plans to widen its sanction measures to include petroleum, shipbuilding, shipping and finance transactions from early November. Oil is the largest vulnerable factor. Asia`s fourth-largest economy brought in $3.91 billion worth of crude oil from Iran in the first eight months, which accounted for 96.4 percent of its imports from the Islamic state.
Korea is the fifth largest oil importer from Tehran this year, but its oil import fell sharply from $470 million in July to $150 million in August. The government is in talks with Washington to exclude oil from the sanction list.
By Lee Seung-hoon and Minu Kim
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