Korea's dependence on trade exceeded 90 percent last year for the first time in its history. According to the National Statistical Office on Wednesday, the proportion of overseas trade to gross national income hit an all-time high of 92.3 percent in 2008, up more than 30 points from the past decade. The Ministry of Strategy and Finance attributes the surge to sluggish domestic consumption amid the won’s weakness and rising oil prices.
"The won's depreciation caused a decline in dollar-denominated GNI and rising prices of oil, which accounts for a large share of imports, pushed up the nation's trade dependence," an NSO spokesman said. The higher the trade dependence, the more susceptible the economy is to external factors.
Experts are urging measures to boost domestic consumption, and the ministry is looking to upgrade services industries such as education, medicine and law as well as tourism infrastructure.
According to NSO data, Korea ranked 11th among 93 countries surveyed last year. Singapore was the most dependent on overseas trade with a ratio of 361.7 percent, followed by Hong Kong (348.4 percent), Belgium (188.3 percent), Malaysia (168.5 percent), Hungary (138.2 percent), and Taiwan (126.8 percent).