South Korean trade stayed robust after its best-ever year in 2017 with exports in January surging 22.2 percent from a year earlier, preliminary government data showed.
According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on Thursday, the country’s exports in January grew 22.2 percent on year to $49.2 billion, rising sharply from December’s 8.9 percent gain. It marked the 15th consecutive month of growth and a return to double-digit gains in four months.
Last year, the country’s exports reached an all-time high of $573.9 billion, up 15.8 percent from the previous year.
The ministry attributed the stellar results to the global economic recovery and the price competitiveness of mainstay exports.
Imports rose 20.9 percent on year to $45.5 billion for a trade surplus of $3.72 billion, marking the 72th straight month of surplus in trade balance.
Nine out of 13 mainstay sectors showed double-digit growth.
Shipments of semiconductors surged 53.4 percent on year, machinery 27.8 percent, petrochemical products 18.4 percent and computers 38.6 percent. All four categories posted a monthly record high for January.
Meanwhile exports of auto parts fell 6.5 percent, displays 7.6 percent, home appliances 8.8 percent and mobile devices 9.7 percent.
By region, exports to Korea’s largest trading partner China soared 24.5 percent to $13.4 billion, extending its six-month growth streak. Southeast Asia and India also recorded a monthly record high for January at $8.32 billion and $1.22 billion, respectively. Shipments to Vietnam, which has emerged as the country’s No. 3 export market, surged 53.1 percent, marking a 24th month run of growth.
By Seok Min-soo and Kim Hyo-jin
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