South Korea's shrinking Feb exports a worrying sign of global slowdown

South Korean exports shrank by one-sixth for the first 20 days of this month from a year earlier despite longer working days, data showed on Sunday, adding to concerns that the global economy was losing momentum.

South Korean exports during the Feb. 1-20 period totaled $22.16 billion, down 17.3 percent from the comparable period of 2015, while imports fell 17.4 percent to $20.19 billion, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service.

Adjusting for the longer working days that the country had this year than last year, exports and imports during the first 20 days of this month would be about 20 percent each less than a year earlier, Thomson Reuters calculations show.

The customs agency published only the total amount on its website without providing details. South Korea is the world's sixth-largest exporter and Sunday's data was the earliest indicator on the global trade from a major country.

The country is sending a quarter of total exports to neighboring China, whose slowdown and shaky prospects have emerged as one of the key risks for global policymakers and investors in recent months.

South Korea had already posted a shockingly sharp drop in exports for January, when overseas shipments measured in dollar value tumbled by a revised 18.8 percent over a year earlier - the worst in more than six years.

South Korea is due to publish official export and import data for the whole of February on March 1, when it will be the first major economy to provide details on the latest strength of the global trade.

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