While South Korea’s exports failed to rebound from a minus figure in January, the daily average exports showed an upturn for the first time in 14 months, raising hopes for an overall recovery. The government has forecast the exports to rebound to a plus from this month, although such a projection remains questionable with the impact of the new coronavirus outbreak that is seen to affect sales and production both domestically and globally.

According to data from the Ministry of Trade, exports last month dropped 6.1 percent from a year ago at $43.35 billion, marking yet another minus growth for 14 consecutive months. This, however, includes 2.5 shorter working days compared to the same month in 2019.

The daily average export volume that does not reflect the number of working days, meanwhile, increased by 4.8 percent to $2.02 billion from a year ago, indicating signs of an improvement.

During the 2017 and 2018 period when the country recorded over $1 trillion in exports, the daily export volume had hovered over $2 billion.

The Trade Ministry official explained that the latest data shows Korea’s exporters performed well despite the US-Iran tension as well as the virus spread from early this year.

Of Korea’s entire exports of $604.9 billion last year, shipments to China’s Hubei province, the origin of the new coronavirus outbreak, accounted for 0.3 percent, or $1.76 billion.

According to Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, 3,751 Korean companies operate in China as of last year, of which 29, or 0.8 percent, are based in Hubei province.

China accounts for 15.9 percent of the world economy, which is four times larger than the 4.3 percent proportion during the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak.