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Korea's exports hit second-largest ever $55.55b in Oct

South Korea’s exports rose on-year for 12 months in a row to $55.55 billion in October, its second highest monthly figure ever, as recoveries in major markets led to strong demand for semiconductors and petrochemical products.

Overseas shipments last month surged 24 percent from a year ago, marking an eighth straight month of double digit growth, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said on Monday.

The largest-ever monthly exports figure was 55.83 billion in September.

“Despite the unprecedented impact of COVID-19, exports rebounded quickly, leading the recovery and growth of our economy since the pandemic,” Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Moon Sung-wook said in a statement.

“With a faster growth of exports compared to major economies such as the US, Germany and Japan, South Korea is expected to post record annual exports and trade volume this year.”

The nation logged $523.2 billion in January-October exports, the highest figure ever. The last time its exports in the first 10 months of the year went over $500 billion was in 2018.

Rising prices of high value-added semiconductor, display and computer products as well as increasing demand helped maintain the momentum for growth.

Exports of semiconductors rose 28.8 percent from a year ago to $11.17 billion, while exports of petrochemicals jumped 68.5 percent to $4.99 billion.

Machinery and steel exports climbed 12.7 percent to $4.39 billion and 48.6 percent to $3.37 billion, respectively.

Exports of petroleum products soared 138.1 percent to $3.92 billion, while textiles, wireless telecommunication devices, computers, home appliances and biohealth products recorded double-digit growths.

Exports of cars and automotive components, however, dropped 4.7 percent to $3.83 billion and 1.2 percent to $1.79 billion due to adjustments in output amid a global supply shortage of chips used in cars.

Thanks to hallyu, exports of agricultural and fisheries products, and cosmetics also continued to grow.

By region, exports to Korea’s four largest export markets – China, the US, the European Union and the ASEAN – marked double digit growths, while exports to other regions also continued to rise for seven or more months in a row.

Exports to China and the US grew 24.9 percent to $14.39 billion and 22.9 percent to $8.06 billion, respectively.

Exports to the bloc of 10 Southeast Asian countries and the European Union surged 29.2 percent to $9.72 billion and 19.6 percent to $5.09 billion, respectively.

Exports to India rose 29.9 percent to $1.4 billion.

South Korea’s imports also increased 37.8 percent from a year ago to $53.86 billion in October, marking a trade surplus of $1.69 billion.

Imports grew on-year for 11 consecutive months on increased imports of raw materials and intermediate goods on strong domestic demand and rising exports.

By Kim So-hyun (