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South Korea posts second-biggest monthly exports thanks to ships, semiconductors

Staff Writer |
South Korea in April posted the second-biggest monthly exports as shipments of semiconductors and ships surged to record levels, a government report showed.

Exports, which account for around half of the export-driven economy, topped $51 billion in April, up 24.2 percent from a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

It was the largest-ever monthly exports after the 51.6 billion dollars tallied in October 2014.

The exports continued to rise for six straight months, marking a double-digit increase for the fourth consecutive month.

The daily exports of business days averaged 2.27 billion dollars, the largest since June 2014. The figure was up 24.2 percent from a year ago.

Imports jumped 16.6 percent year-on-year to 37.8 billion dollars in April, sending the trade surplus to 13.3 billion dollars. The trade balance stayed in the black for 63 months in a row.

Ship exports touched the record monthly high of 7.13 billion dollars. Demand for ships, which had slumped over a long period of time, recovered for two months through April.

South Korean shipbuilders, which have been experiencing a painful restructuring amid the global slowdown, won 24 orders in April alone to build high value-added ships, contributing to the record-level exports of ships.

Semiconductor exports reached 7.14 billion dollars due to demand for chips used in smartphones and stable memory chip prices.

Among 13 key export items, nine products showed an increase in overseas shipments. Exports of four products, including smartphones, home appliances, auto parts and textiles, declined on lackluster global demand.

Cosmetics shipments fell 2.6 percent on weak demand from China. Exports to other regions, including Southeast Asian nations, the United States and Japan, maintained a double-digit increase.

Shipments to the European Union registered a record monthly high of 6.43 billion dollars.

Exports to China, South Korea's biggest trading partner, logged a double-digit expansion for four months in a row on demand for chips, machinery and petrochemicals.

Exports to the United States grew 3.9 percent on solid demand for machinery, oil products and home appliances that offset reduction in smartphones and auto parts.

Helped by the brisk exports in recent months, the trade ministry raised its 2017 outlook for overseas shipments to a range of 6-7 percent growth from the previous 2.9 percent expansion.