South Korea's exports soared 35 percent to reach an all-time high in September thanks to strong demand for semiconductors and displays, government data showed Sunday.
Outbound shipments came to US$55.1 billion for the month, up from $40.8 billion tallied a year earlier, according to data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, and the Korea Customs Service.
The September figure marks the largest monthly total in South Korean history, eclipsing the earlier record of $51.6 billion set in October 2014.
The country's exports have been on a steady rise since November led by an upturn in oil prices and recovering global trade. September marked the ninth month in a row that exports grew by double digits.
The amount of goods shipped out per working day also jumped 20.6 percent on-year to a record $2.35 billion to mark the 10th consecutive month of growth, with won-denominated shipments surging 37.8 percent.
Imports also rose 21.7 percent on-year to $41.4 billion last month.
The country's trade surplus came to $13.8 billion, marking 68 straight months that the country's exports have exceeded imports, the ministry said.
The trade ministry said South Korea's major export items like computer chips, steel and displays lent support to the record-breaking exports volume.
Exports of semiconductors skyrocketed 70 percent on-year in September to a record $9.69 billion, on the back of steady price hikes and releases of flagship smartphones, such as Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 and Apple's new iPhones. It is the first time that monthly outbound shipments of computer chips topped the $9 billion mark.
Overseas sales of steel products more than doubled to reach a fresh record high of $4.67 billion in September, extending their rally to six months, on a rise in steel prices.
Outbound shipments of petrochemicals vaulted 41.5 percent on contracted global supply stemming from a hurricane-hit southeastern region of the United States, and those of flat screens leaped 10.1 percent thanks to steady sales of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels.
Exports of South Korean-made vessels made a rebound to move up 38.7 percent on-year, while shipments of cars advanced 57.6 percent last month from a year earlier.
However, exports of wireless devices fell 15.9 percent on-year despite the scheduled rollout of new smartphone models, while overseas sales of home appliances tumbled 15.6 percent on-year in September.
Exports of auto parts edged down 6.4 percent due to contracted demand from big markets like the United States and China.
By region, South Korea's shipments to China, the largest export market, gained 23.4 percent last month to a three-year high of $13.52 billion on steady demand for mobile chips and petrochemical products to mark 11 straight months of rise, while those to Vietnam shot up 69.4 percent, expanding for the 20th month in a row.
Exports to Japan landed in positive terrain for the 11th consecutive month to post a 16 percent on-year increase in September led by a rise in shipments of steel and auto parts.
The European Union's imports from South Korea rose 23 percent last month from a year earlier on the back of clear signs of economic recovery in the region.
Shipments to the United States also jumped 28.9 percent on-year in September for third month in a row, on a sharp increase in exports of petrochemicals and machinery. The trade surplus with the world's largest economy climbed to $2.56 billion last month.
For the July-September period, Asia's fourth-largest economy saw its quarterly exports jump 24 percent on-year to $151 billion, the largest since the first quarter of 2011.
Exports of semiconductors reached a record high of $26.3 billion, up 61.7 percent, and those of steel jumped 42.9 percent to $9.9 billion over the three-month period.
The trade ministry said the upbeat global trade trend will continue for a while on the back of the recovery in the U.S., EU and China.
"Despite rising uncertainties like the risks associated with North Korea, South Korean trade pulled off record-high numbers last month," Minister Paik Un-gyu said in a statement. "In the upcoming fourth quarter, however, the growth pace will likely slow down to some extent due to strengthening trade protectionism and decreased business days." (Yonhap)
Kim Su-a firstname.lastname@example.org
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