Korea’s exports are expected to exceed $200 billion for the first time in the nation’s trade history, reaching around $245 billion, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE) said.

The export projection was released in an export trend review meeting for the second half of 2004, held at the Kwachon government complex by export-related government agencies and leading trading companies.

Strong exports are also expected to boost trade surplus to $25 billion this year, a $10 billion increase over last year.

“Despite worsening export conditions like high oil prices and interest rate hikes with major trading partners, exports are forecast to shoot to around $20 billion for the rest of the year. Accordingly, the outbound shipments will go way beyond the $200 billion projected early this year,’’ a MOCIE official said.

If the country achieves the upwardly revised export outlook for 2004, it will see exports rise by 26.4% from $1,938 last year.

Monthly exports exceeded $20 billion for the 6th straight month from March this year on the back of the world’s growing demand for Korean goods, particularly high-tech products.

“The country will become the 12th nation in the world to achieve over $200 billion in exports this year. In the case of exports per capita, Korea will place 8th in the world,’’ a report by the Korea International Trade Association said.

It is rare to see a country achieve the fastest export expansion in such a short period of time, as it has taken only 40 years for Korea to expand exports to $200 billion from $0.1 billion in 1964.

Among 12 countries, including islands and Guatemala, that posted $0.1 billion in exports in 1964, all except Korea failed to achieve even $100 billion in exports this year, the report said.

In an effort to prop up exports, which shows a sign of a recent slowdown, the MOCIE said it will step up a free trade agreement with trading partners and support overseas marketing of trading companies. (The Korea Times)