SEOUL: South Korea’s export kept growing for the fifth month in March thanks to recovery in global demand, especially for semiconductors, automobiles and petrochemicals, a government report showed Thursday.
Export, which accounts for about half of the export-driven economy, amounted to 53.83 billion U.S. dollars in March, up 16.6 percent from a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
It was the highest March increase since data began to be compiled, marking the biggest growth in 29 months.
The outbound shipment continued to go up for five straight months with the expansion of 3.9 percent in November 2020, 12.4 percent in December 2020, 11.4 percent in January and 9.5 percent in February this year respectively.
Global demand mounted as the vaccination campaigns for the COVID-19 pandemic were launched across the world.
The daily average export, which excludes the working-day effect, picked up 16.6 percent to 2.24 billion dollars last month.
Import climbed 18.8 percent over the year to 49.65 billion dollars in March, sending the trade surplus to 4.18 billion dollars. The trade balance stayed in black for the 11th consecutive month.
Among the country’s 15 major export items, nine products gained in double figures in the month.
Petrochemical shipment surged 48.5 percent from a year earlier to reach a new monthly high of 4.75 billion dollars in March on the back of demand for products used to make packing materials.
The usage of packing materials increased as the COVID-19 pandemic boosted contactless online delivery services.
Automotive export spiked 15.3 percent to 4.4 billion dollars, marking the highest in 51 months on demand for sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and environmentally-friendly vehicles.
Chip shipment gained 8.6 percent to 9.51 billion dollars last month, logging the highest figure in 28 months.
General machinery export recorded the second-highest monthly reading of 4.75 billion dollars due to demand from China and Southeast Asian countries.
Oil product shipment turned upward in 27 months amid a higher price for global crude oil, and steel product export continued to increase for three months owing to recovery in the construction and automotive industries.
Export for ships and auto parts kept an upward trend for the fifth straight month, and consumer electronics export grew in double digits on demand from the United States and the European Union (EU).
The shipment of telecommunication devices was up for five months running thanks to a gradual recovery in global demand for locally-made smartphones.
Display panel shipment fell 1.1 percent amid the continued slide in product price.
Export to South Korea’s top four trading partners all gained ground in March.
Shipment to China, South Korea’s biggest trading partner, jumped 26 percent in March from a year earlier, and the export to the United States kept growing for the seventh consecutive month.
Export to the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) increased in double figures last month.
Shipment to Latin American countries continued to expand for five months in a row, and export to India rebounded in two months.
Export to Japan and the Middle East continued to skid for three and 12 straight months respectively.