Korea’s export growth rate ranked No. 6 among Group of Twenty nations last year, while its imports rose at the fourth-fastest clip, a report showed Sunday.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Asia’s fourth-largest economy shipped out $574 billion worth of goods, a gain of 16 percent on-year. This is some 6 percentage points higher than the 10 percent growth average reached by other systemically important industrialized and developing economies.

The Paris-based organization said while Korea’s exports surged ahead, its imports rose even faster, jumping 18.3 percent on-year to $479.6 billion. This is 6.8 percentage points higher than 11.5 percent for other G20 members.

The effect of net exports to growth contribution, which is calculated by subtracting imports from outbound shipments, stood at minus 1.7 percent, the sharpest decrease since the negative 2.1 percent checked in 1999.

The OECD said that in addition to Korea, a total of nine countries reported higher import growth numbers vis-a-vis exports last year. Those are China, Argentina, India, Turkey, Italy, Germany, Japan, and France.

In contrast, there were nine G20 member states whose export growth outpaced imports, including the United States, Britain, Canada and Mexico.

Among G20 nations, Russia ranked at the top in terms of both export and import growth in 2017, while both export and import numbers for Saudi Arabia contracted on an annual basis.

Moon Byung-ki, a researcher at Institute for International Trade, said Korea’s economy is set up in a way that imports usually rise if exports increase.

“The country has to import the energy resources, materials and components that are needed to make products for exports,” he said.

The economist said that in the future, the country needs to concentrate more on making value-added goods while importing less intermediate goods, which are more expensive, if it wants to improve its net export numbers.(Yonhap)