[사설] Trade deficit for 6 consecutive months in 25 years, ‘fuzzy sense of crisis’ is a real crisis

[사설] Trade deficit for 6 consecutive months in 25 years, ‘fuzzy sense of crisis’ is a real crisis

The trade balance recorded a deficit of $3.77 billion in September, continuing the deficit flow for six consecutive months since April. It has been 25 years since the Asian financial crisis of 1997. The accumulated deficit in January-September alone exceeded $28.8 billion, breaking an annual record, and the deficit is expected to rise to a staggering $48 billion by the end of the year. It is a crisis similar to the foreign exchange crisis and the financial crisis.

Exports increased by more than 20% at the start of the year, but only increased by 2.8% in September. Exports of semiconductors such as NAND flash DRAM, which account for a fifth of total exports, fell for the second consecutive month due to a sharp drop in global demand. Exports of key products such as petrochemicals and steel were also slow, and exports to China, the largest market, fell for the fourth consecutive month.

Income is booming. As global supply shortages worsen, imports of energy such as oil, gas and coal in September reached $17.9 billion, an 81% increase from the previous year. The intensity of the experience is very severe as it overlaps with the winner’s devaluation. Another problem is that there are no signs of improvement for now.

The trade deficit is very likely to widen into a current account deficit. This could lead to a supply of foreign currency liquidity. As of September, foreign exchange reserves stand at $436.4 billion, but this is not a step to ease. In 2008, just before the financial crisis, there was a precedent for a sudden drop of $63.7 billion in eight months. We must not forget that even foreign investment funds in the stock market can flow out like an ebb at any time.

Above all, the ‘fuzzy sense of crisis’ is a real crisis. The government should not just say ‘the probability of an economic crisis is very low’. Businesses, individuals and foreign investors must implement reliable and predictable policies consistently, intensively and quickly. Politicians should also contribute to revising the Special Act on Semiconductors and lowering the corporate tax rate. If you don’t fasten your seat belt now, situations you can’t even imagine could come. The crisis has already begun.

〈ⓒ The Korea Economic Daily (www.dnews.co.kr), unauthorized reproduction, collection and redistribution is prohibited.

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