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Exports surge 17% in first 20 days of April

Containers are stacked up for outbound shipments at Gamman Pier in Busan on Jan. 21, 2022. (Yonhap)
Containers are stacked up for outbound shipments at Gamman Pier in Busan on Jan. 21, 2022. (Yonhap)

South Korea's exports rose 16.9 percent in the first 20 days of April from a year earlier on the back of demand for chips and petroleum products, customs data showed Thursday.

The country's outbound shipments stood at $36.3 billion in the April 1-20 period, compared with $31 billion a year earlier, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service.

Imports increased 25.5 percent on-year to $41.5 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $5.2 billion during the cited period, the data showed.

By sector, outbound shipments of memory chips, a key export item, rose 22.9 percent on-year. Semiconductors accounted for about 20 percent of South Korea's exports.

Exports of petroleum products jumped 82 percent on-year as Russia's invasion of Ukraine has pushed up crude oil and other commodity prices. South Korea heavily relies on imports for most of its energy needs.

Meanwhile, exports of autos fell 1 percent on-year amid a global shortage of auto chips. Autos accounted for some 7 percent of South Korea's exports. Shipments of telecommunication devices also slid 10.7 percent.

By country, exports to China rose 1.8 percent and those to the United States jumped 29.1 percent.

Imports of crude oil soared 82.6 percent and those of petroleum products jumped 46.6 percent amid high oil prices as the Ukraine-Russia war tightened supply of such goods.

Dubai crude, South Korea's benchmark, came to $105.56 per barrel on Wednesday, sharply up from $77.12 at the end of last year. It hit a yearly high of $127.86 per barrel on March 9.

Asia's fourth-largest economy has been on a recovery path on the back of robust exports.

Exports, which account for half of the economy, gained 18.2 percent on-year in March to hit an all-time monthly high on brisk demand for chips and petroleum products, according to the trade ministry.

But surging energy costs pushed up the country's imports to a record high in March. This led the country to post a trade deficit of $140 million.

The International Monetary Fund lowered its 2022 growth outlook for the South Korean economy to 2.5 percent, while raising inflation projection to 4 percent this year as the Ukraine conflict has jacked up oil prices. (Yonhap)

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