The South Korea's exports in the first nine months of the year shrank 1.5% to US$408.4 billion from the same period a year earlier, according to the Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy. The ministry attributed the drop to European fiscal woes that are pulling down demand in Europe, along with global demand, for South Korean products. Consequently, the proportion of the country's exports to the European Union to its total overseas shipments dropped from 10.3% in 2010 to 9.6% last year, then again to 9.4% so far this year, South Korea's News Agency (Yonhap) reported. On the other hand, the proportion of exports to the 10 member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been rising steadily from 10.9% two years ago to 11.6% in 2011 and 12.1% this year, according to the ministry. "The proportion of exports to ASEAN countries and the United States will likely grow while those of exports to Japan and the European Union will likely show steady declines," it said in a press release. "Such an outlook warrants increased efforts to expand the country's trade relations with the ASEAN, along with a change of strategies for China, Japan and the EU." The proportion of exports to the United States of South Korea's total exports had been steadily declining from 11% in 2008 to 10.1% last year, but rebounded to 10.9% so far this year, an apparent effect of the countries' bilateral free trade agreement enacted earlier this year. The proportion of exports to China, still the largest market for South Korean goods, has also been on the wane from 25.1% in 2010 to 24.2% last year and 23.6% so far this year.