Asia-Pacific News

South Korea eyes long-term MERS risk with Reuters

South Korea's finance ministry promised to keep monetary policy "expansionary" while MERS continued to threaten the economy, as data showed exports and imports suffered a steep decline in May.

Exports fell 10.9 percent from a year earlier while imports declined 15.4 percent in May, revised customs agency data showed on Monday. The numbers were almost unchanged from the preliminary figures reported earlier.

South Korea is currently suffering an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The country's health ministry reported five new cases on Monday, taking the total to 150.

The ministry also said a patient infected with the MERS virus had died, the 16th fatality in an outbreak that began in May.

Read MoreSouth Korea's MERS outbreak "large and complex:" WHO

In a statement to parliament released after the trade data, South Korea's finance ministry said it would keep its macroeconomic policies expansionary until the country's economic recovery firmed.

"Although the overall effect from MERS on the economy is limited for now, there are concerns downside risks to growth will expand should the outbreak persist long-term," the finance ministry said. "We will maintain expansionary macroeconomic policy until the recovery gains footing in earnest."