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S. Korea's July trade surplus narrows on falling exports

South Korea's trade surplus shrank from a month earlier in July as exports slipped at a greater pace than imports, the government said Wednesday.

The country's trade balance came to $2.7 billion in the black last month, compared with a surplus of $4.96 billion in June, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

Still, July marks the sixth consecutive month the country has posted a trade surplus since January when the country's trade balance went into the red for the first time in 24 months.

Exports dropped 8.8 percent on-year to $44.6 billion last month, taking a sharp turnaround from a 1.1-percent gain in the previous month.

Imports slipped 5.5 percent to $41.9 percent, continuing a year-on-year drop for the fifth consecutive month since February, according to the ministry.

The ministry attributed the drop in exports to continuing troubles in Europe.

"Export growth turned to the negative amid a continued economic slowdown in major markets, such as the European Union and China, which may continue to weaken the country's exports in the future," it said in a press release.

Shipments to China and Europe in July dropped 0.5 percent and 4.9 percent on-year, respectively, the ministry said, though exports to the so-called developed nations, such as the United States and Japan, surged 12.3 percent.

Outbound shipments of petrochemical products dropped 20.2 percent from the same period last year with new orders for ships plunging 57.5 percent, apparently representing shrinking demand amid a global economic downturn.

Only exports of LCD panels and general machinery showed slight increases of 6.7 percent and 3.5 percent, respectively, with shipments of automobile parts also rising 1.9 percent from a year earlier, according to the ministry.

(Yonhap News)