South Korea finance minister says exports expected to resume decline

Employees work as South Korea's new finance minister Yoo Il-ho visits a port in Pyeongtaek

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s finance minister said on Wednesday he expected exports to fall again, partly due to ongoing strikes in a number of industries.

“While domestic consumption is going through a correction, industrial output and exports are expected to decline again, after showing weak signs of improvement, due to factors like strikes,” said Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho.

Yoo was chairing a meeting of government officials in Seoul to discuss their response to strikes that have occurred nationwide, including at Hyundai Motor Co <005380.KS>.

Exports rose for the first time after 19 months of falls in August, but gloomy shipment data for the first 20 days of September showed that rebound was unlikely to last.

Preliminary export data for the full month of September will be released Oct. 1.

Yoo said the strikes at Hyundai from July this year had resulted in accumulative losses of nearly 2.5 trillion won ($2.28 billion), noting Hyundai’s suppliers were severely affected.

Workers at a number of locations including banks, subways and hospitals have also taken strike action in recent weeks against the government’s push to run performance-based assessments of employees at public corporations.

“This group selfishness is going too far, and (those striking) will not be able to avoid the blame of the public,” said Yoo in his opening speech.

(Reporting by Christine Kim, editing by G Crosse and Eric Meijer)