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Korea’s IT exports drop 8.2% in March

South Korea’s exports of information technology products contracted 8.2 percent on-year due to persistent eurozone woes and a slowdown in the Chinese economy, the government said Thursday.

The country shipped $12.37 billion worth of IT products in March, compared with $13.48 billion a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

Despite minus growth, the country posted a trade surplus of $5.85 billion as imports fell 9.8 percent on-year to $6.52 billion.

March’s surplus represents a gain from $5.57 billion in the black a month earlier.

The ministry said last month’s negative showing comes after the country posted 4.8 percent on-year growth for IT products in February. Before February, South Korea reported five straight months of contractions brought on by weak global economic growth that hurt demand for semiconductors, displays, computers, TVs and various other electronics appliances.

The drop can be attributed to a surge in sales of locally made products in March 2011 caused by disruption in production in Japan, when it was hit by the massive earthquake and tsunami, it said.

According to the report, exports of semiconductors, displays, mobile phones, TVs and computers all fell compared to the previous year.

Outbound shipments of semiconductors and displays contracted 3.6 percent and 6.6 percent last month to $4.31 billion and $2.52 billion, respectively.

Mobile phones, including smartphones, plunged 31.2 percent to $1.49 billion while exports of TVs and computers dropped by double digits.

South Korea’s IT exports to China, including Hong Kong, contracted 2.7 percent on-year to $6.12 billion, while numbers for the United States, Japan and the European Union fell by more than 14 percent.

For the first three months of this year, the country shipped out $35.33 billion worth of IT products and imported $18.98 billion for a surplus of $16.35 billion.

The ministry predicted exports of smartphones and system semiconductors will fare well for the whole of 2012, although any gains will be tempered by overall weakness in the global economy. 

(Yonhap News)