South Korea's exports grew from a year ago last month with imports also rising at a similar pace, the government said Friday.
Outbound shipments amounted to US$48.42 billion in July, up 5.7 percent from the same month last year, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
Imports rose 5.8 percent on-year to $45.9 billion.
The country's trade surplus widened slightly to $2.52 billion from $2.45 billion in July 2013. July also marked the 30th consecutive month the country has posted a trade surplus.
"Both exports and imports grew on the economic recovery of advanced countries," the ministry said in a press release.
Exports to the United States jumped 19.4 percent on-year with shipments to European Union countries also surging 11.5 percent.
Exports to Japan rose 6 percent on-year, marking a sharp turnaround from a 9 percent on-year drop in the previous month.
Shipments to China, however, continued to decline for the third consecutive month, posting a 7 percent on-year drop in July.
"Exports continued to rise in July on growing shipments to advanced countries, but the drop in shipments to China for the third straight month prompts some concerns," the ministry said.
The ministry said it will soon come up with measures to boost the country's exports to China, the world's single largest importer of South Korean products. Shipments to China accounted for nearly a quarter of South Korea's overall exports in 2013.
"The government will seek joint measures by all related offices at the earliest date possible," Kwon Pyong-oh, head of the ministry's trade and investment bureau, told a press briefing.
He said the measures will largely focus on increasing shipments of consumer goods to China.
Currently, about 47 percent of South Korea's exports to China are parts or materials that are used in China's finished goods, meaning shipments to China are heavily dependent on China's own exports.
"Under such a structure, there inevitably is a limit to boosting the country's exports to China. The government seeks to come up with measures that can strengthen the presence of South Korean products in China's domestic market," he told reporters.
By product, shipments of mobile communication devices, including smartphones, spiked 24.6 percent on-year to $2.61 billion in July with shipments of automobiles and automobile parts also jumping 20.8 percent and 12.7 percent, respectively, to $4.3 billion and $2.47 billion.
Exports of petroleum products, such as gasoline and diesel, surged 12.4 percent on-year to $4.58 billion, becoming the country's second-largest export item after semiconductors, whose shipments gained 1 percent to $4.85 billion, according to the ministry.
Exports of ships, on the other hand, plunged 13.7 percent to $2.18 billion with shipments of textile products inching down 0.9 percent to $1.41 billion.
The rise in imports, the largest on-year increase this year, was partly attributed to an increase in oil prices.
The average price of crude oil grew over 7 percent on-year to $112 per barrel last month from $104.4 per barrel 12 months ago, the ministry said.
This, along with growing demands for petroleum products such as gasoline, led to an 8.8 percent on-year rise in the country's imports of raw materials, which accounted for 61 percent of its total imports. (Yonhap)