SEOUL: Both exports and imports of South Korea declined for nine straight months on the back of cheaper oil that reduced prices for export and import products, a government report showed Thursday.
Exports, which account for about half of the economy, slipped 8. 3 percent from a year earlier to 43.51 billion U.S. dollars in September after tumbling 14.9 percent the previous month, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. The August figure was the largest monthly decline in six years, but the decline slowed down last month thanks to demand for newly launched mobile devices.
Exports of oil products and petrochemicals plunged 35.3 percent and 25 percent in September from a year earlier due to lower crude oil prices. Shipments in ships and steels reduced more than 20 percent, and computer exports declined 11.7 percent.
Shipments of telecommunication devices, including smartphones, surged 40.9 percent last month thanks to robust demand for newly launched mobile devices like Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy Note 5.
Amid brisk sales of mobile devices, semiconductor exports increased 1.4 percent on rising usage of mobile device chips. Consumer electronics shipments gained 1.4 percent on demand for TV components.
Auto parts shipments expanded 5 percent on demand from China, with cosmetics exports soaring 43.7 percent on demand from Asian nations. In terms of volume, the September exports increased 5.4 percent compared with the same month of last year.
Exports to the European Union (EU) rebounded 19.7 percent in September after plunging 20.8 percent in August as the European economy showed signs of recovery, but those to China and the United States, South Korea’s top two trading partners, declined 5 percent and 3.7 percent respectively. Exports to Japan tumbled 24. 3 percent.
The country’s imports plunged 21.8 percent from a year earlier to 34.56 billion dollars in September after sliding 18.3 percent in August. The September figure marked the largest monthly decline this year.
Imports of capital and consumer goods advanced 7.6 percent and 5.8 percent each last month, but raw material imports dropped 37.9 percent, indicating the import decline attributable to low commodity prices. Both exports and imports maintained the downward trend for nine months in a row. Helped by faster decline in imports than exports, trade surplus reached 8.94 billion dollars in September, staying in the black for 44 months since February 2012.