S. Korea’s exports jump 19.5 pct in July

SEJONG-- South Korea's exports continued their rally for nine straight months by rising a sharp 19.5 percent last month on brisk overseas sales of semiconductors, the trade ministry said Tuesday.

Outbound shipments came to US$48.85 billion in July, up from $40.88 billion tallied a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The country's exports have been on a steady rise since November led by an upturn in oil prices and recovering global trade. The country posted double-digit export growth for seven months in a row.

The average export value per working day advanced 19.5 percent on-year to $2.08 billion to record the eighth consecutive month of growth, with won-denominated shipments also rising 18.5 percent, also marking nine straight months that this number has advanced.

The trade tally showed imports advancing 14.5 percent on-year to $38.2 billion last month.

Last month's trade surplus came to $10.6 billion, marking 66 straight months that the country's exports have exceeded imports, the ministry said.

The trade ministry said rising global demand for South Korea's key export items including semiconductors helped the country's exports.

Exports of computer chips surged 57.8 percent on-year in July to $7.89 billion, the second-largest monthly shipments, on the back of steady price hikes and increasing demand for information technology devices. Outbound shipments of semiconductors have been playing a major part in spearheading the upside cycle.

Sales of ships skyrocketed 208.2 percent last month to extend its winning streak to five months as struggling South Korean shipbuilders managed to sell two offshore plant vessels, while outbound shipments of petrochemicals increased 13.5 percent on an uptick in oil prices

Overseas sales of flat screens were on a roll and gained 6.3 percent last month from a year earlier on stellar sales of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels, and those of vehicles rose 7.5 percent on demand from Europe.

However, exports of wireless devices plunged 27.4 percent on-year mainly due to the expansion of overseas production by local companies.

Shipments of auto parts decreased 13.3 percent as local carmakers expanded their overseas manufacturing plants, while overseas sales of home appliances slumped 29.5 percent on-year in July.

By region, South Korea's shipments to China, the largest export market, gained 6.6 percent last month from a year earlier on steady demand for chips and petrochemical products to mark nine straight months of gains, while those to Vietnam jumped 29.9 percent, expanding for the 18th month in a row.

Exports to Japan landed in positive terrain for the ninth consecutive month to post a 5.1-percent on-year increase in July led by a rise in shipments of machinery and steel products, while the European Union's imports from South Korea added 10.2 percent last month from a year earlier.

Exports to the United States rose 7 percent on-year in July, rebounding from a 2.6-percent drop in May and a 1.1-percent fall in June, as an increase in exports of chips and machinery offset a decline in cars and refined oil products. A trade surplus with the world's largest economy fell by $180 million last month mainly because of a 16.1-percent jump in imports from the U.S.

The trade ministry expected the rosy trend of exports to continue for a while on the back of the recovering world economy and a price hike in the country's key export items.

Excluding shipments of ships and chips, Asia's fourth-largest economy saw its exports gain about 2 percent in July.

"Although the growth dropped to a large extent without the two heavyweight items, overall exports remained on the plus side even though the growth rate is low," Park Jin-kyu, a director general at the trade ministry, said at a press briefing. "We are on an steady upswing cycle."

But he said the government will not let down its guard as there are still some possible downside pressures like a slowdown in an oil prices hike, U.S. monetary tightening and strengthening trade protectionism.

Meanwhile, global market research firm Moody's earlier forecast that the stellar pace of South Korea's export growth will likely slow down starting in the third quarter.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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