South Korea's exports increased 8.7 percent in August compared with a year ago on upbeat sales of semiconductors and petrochemical products, government data showed Saturday.
Outbound shipments reached US$51.2 billion last month, a record high for August, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
Imports surged 9.2 percent on-year to $44.3 billion last month for a trade surplus of $6.9 billion, marking 79 straight months in which the country's exports have exceeded imports, the ministry said.
The ministry said the global economic recovery and robust prices of major export items, including memory chips and petrochemical goods, bolstered shipments for Asia's fourth-largest economy.
Shipments of semiconductors jumped 31.5 percent to $11.5 billion last month on strong sales of high-value memory chips and storage devices in major markets, breaking the previous record high.
Overseas sales of petrochemical products rose a solid 17 percent to hit an all-time high of $4.35 billion, aided by strong demand and rising oil prices. The amount has exceeded $4 billion for nine months in a row for the first time.
Exports of vehicles swung to growth last month as sales rebounded in the U.S. market following the release of new SUVs.
Outbound shipments of ships continued to grapple with the slumping global demand and a high base effect, tumbling 71.8 percent compared with a year ago.
By country, exports to China, South Korea's top trading partner, gained 20.8 percent on-year on the back of memory chips, petrochemical and machinery products. It marked growth for 22 straight months in a row.
Sales in the United States edged up 1.5 percent on strong demand for memory chips, petrochemical goods and vehicles, offsetting weak sales of wireless communication equipment and home appliances.
The Seoul government said the strong global demand in the manufacturing and heavy industrial sectors, as well as rising oil prices, will positively affect the nation's exports in the latter half of the year.
However, a possibility of protracted trade disputes between Washington and Beijing and the rising volatility in the financial market ahead of the U.S. interest rate adjustment can exert downside risks, it noted. (Yonhap)
"South Korea's export growth is expected to hover around 5 percent in the latter half, which would enable this year's exports to surpass $600 billion for the first time," Industry Minister Paik Un-gyu said in a release. "But the external environment is not favorable due to rising protectionism in major economies and uncertainties in emerging economies following the U.S. Federal Reserve's interest hike."
Kim Jung-mi firstname.lastname@example.org
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