South Korea's exports continued to rise in April, extending their winning streak to six months, on the back of brisk overseas sales of ships and chips, the trade ministry said Monday.
Outbound shipments came to US$51 billion last month, up a nearly seven-year high of 24.2 percent from $41.1 billion tallied a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
It marked the second-largest monthly volume since October 2014, when shipments reached $51.6 billion, while it posted double digit growth for four months in a row for the first time in nearly seven years.
The country's exports have been on a steady rise since November led by an upturn in oil prices and recovering world trade.
Imports jumped 16.6 percent on-year to $37.8 billion in April.
Last month's trade surplus came to $13.3 billion, marking 63 straight months of surplus, the ministry said.
The average export value per working day vaulted 24.2 percent on-year to $2.27 billion, logging the largest amount since June 2014, with won-denominated shipments also rising 22.6 percent for six straight months.
The trade ministry said the rally in exports is led by South Korea's key export items like vessels, semiconductors, petrochemical products and cars.
Exports of ships totaled a record $7.13 billion in April, up 102.9 percent from a year earlier, despite a worldwide slump in the industry and the ongoing corporate restructuring in the country's leading shipbuilders like Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co.
Exports of locally made chips, which have played a major role in spearheading the upbeat mode in the country's exports, shot up 56.9 percent on-year to $7.14 billion due to increasing demand for cutting-edge smartphones.
Overseas sales of flat screens continued their upside cycle to jump 10.2 percent last month from a year earlier, while shipments of petroleum products increased 25.6 percent on an uptick in oil prices, and those of vehicles rose 11.6 percent, marking the first double-digit growth since July 2014.
However, exports of wireless devices fell 12.8 percent on-year to extend their losing streak to nine months, but the downbeat speed slowed down slightly from the previous month's 26.4 percent on the new release of the Galaxy S8 by Samsung Electronics Co.
Shipments of auto parts also decreased 10.4 percent as local carmakers expand their overseas production facilities.
By region, South Korea's shipments to China, the largest export market, expanded 10.2 percent last month from a year earlier to mark the first four consecutive months of double-digit increase in 66 months, while those to Vietnam moved up 63.1 percent, expanding for the 15th month in a row.
Exports to Japan also landed in positive terrain for the sixth straight month to post a 23.8 percent jump in April led by a rise in exports of petrochemicals and steel products.
Exports to the United States rose 3.9 percent in April, turning around from a 5 percent drop in the previous month on rising demand for machinery and petrochemicals. A trade surplus with the world's largest economy fell to $1.68 billion in April from $2.52 billion a year earlier.
A senior official expected Asia's fourth-largest economy to maintain its robust momentum in May despite negative factors including fewer working days.
"Brisk overseas sales of key items such as semiconductors and petrochemical products will offset some downside factors this month such as negative base effects and a drop in business days," Deputy Trade Minister Chae Hee-bong said in a briefing. "The positive numbers will go on in May."
The official said the government is making efforts to diversify export markets to reduce its dependency on China and the U.S. in the face of growing barriers to the two largest markets accounting for some 40 percent of its exports.
China has been stepping up restrictions on South Korean goods in retaliation for the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system to the nation, while Washington has intensified pressure on Seoul to reduce its bilateral surplus, which reached $28 billion last year. (Yonhap)