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Raise a glass to S Korea exporters

Post Time:Dec 04,2009Classify:Industry NewsView:1220

Sir, The South Korean government tends to complain that the British financial press has got it in for them. For once, I fear you have given them cause ("Mixed data take shine off South Korea's rise in exports", December 2).

What are these "mixed data" that have "poured cold water on any premature celebrations" ? You say that "industrial output has been disappointing, shrinking 4 per cent from October". In fact we do not yet have November data; it was October's production that fell 3.8 per cent compared with September's. Yet according to Yonhap news agency, citing statistical officials, this was chiefly due to October having fewer working days because of Chusok, the Korean harvest festival holiday. With that taken into account, October's output in fact grew by 4.2 per cent.

But exports are your main concern. Although, as you note, preliminary figures for November are up by no less than 19 per cent year on year, you stress that this is "a recovery from a spectacularly sharp decline in 2008 . . . The total value of exports is still below 2007 levels." Well, many countries were badly hit in late 2008. Not all are recovering at a rate of 19 per cent.

You overlook other more germane comparisons, and indeed news items. So far as I know, you have not reported a ceremony in Seoul on November 30, attended by President Lee Myung-bak. According to the Korea Times, this was to mark South Korea's having become "the world's ninth-largest exporter, surpassing Britain, Canada and Russia". If that is true - and no figures are given - then is that not the real story? And unwelcome as it may be, should we not be told?

If South Korea has indeed now overtaken the UK - once the workshop of the world - as an exporter, then I submit that the cold water should be on our heads. The Koreans deserve cold champagne.

Source: www.ft.comAuthor: shangyi

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