South Korea's exports surged to a second-highest monthly tally in April with imports also growing at a steady pace, the government said Thursday.
Outbound shipments came to $50.31 billion in April, up 9 percent from the same month last year. Imports rose 5 percent on-year to $45.85 billion, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
The country's trade surplus widened to $4.46 billion last month from $2.51 billion in April 2013, marking the 27th consecutive month of surplus.
"The country's exports breached the $50 billion mark for the second time in its history on a large growth in shipments to the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations," the ministry said in a press release.
The country's highest monthly figure for exports is $50.48 billion posted in October 2013.
Exports to the United States spiked 19.3 percent on-year in April, with shipments to the 10 member countries of ASEAN jumping 17 percent. The ministry said exports to Japan surged 12 percent on-year in April, compared with a 1 percent on-year gain in the previous month.
Shipments to the European Union, on the other hand, dropped 3.2 percent, while those to China, the world's largest importer of South Korean products, gained 2.4 percent.
By products, shipments of automobiles and petroleum products rose 18.9 percent and 17.2 percent on-year, respectively, to $4.83 billion and $4.36 billion, with exports of vessels also jumping 22.7 percent to $3.21 billion.
The rise in imports was attributed to an increase in inbound shipments of energy.
In April, the country imported some $7.69 billion worth of crude oil, up 4.4 percent from the same month last year, while its imports of petroleum products dropped 7.1 percent on-year to $2.37 billion. Its imports of coal also slipped 2.7 percent to $1.09 billion.
A ministry official said exports growth will likely slow down in May partly due to a cut in the number of working days. He also noted a possible slowdown in China's exports, which may speak for trade conditions for South Korea as well.
China's exports tumbled 6.6 percent on-year in March, according to Kwon Pyung-oh, head of the ministry's trade and investment bureau, citing related data from the World Trade Organization. Such a drop also followed an 18.1 percent plunge in the previous month.
"The government will closely monitor market conditions for our exports to take pre-emptive measures if necessary," he told a press briefing.
In the Jan. 1-April 20 period, China purchased over $42 billion worth of goods from South Korea, accounting for nearly 25 percent of South Korea's total exports over the cited period. (Yonhap)