South Korea posts trade surplus in March

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Seoul, April 15 (IANS) South Korea maintained a trade surplus in March due to a faster fall in imports against exports, data showed on Friday.

Revised figures for the trade surplus reached $9.86 billion in March, up from $7.07 billion in February, according to the Korea Customs Service.

For the first three months of this year, the surplus amounted to $22.1 billion, higher than $21.6 billion during the same period of last year.

The March surplus came as imports declined at a faster pace than exports, boosting worry about the so-called “recession-type” surplus.

Exports, which account for about half of the economy, dropped 8.1 percent from a year earlier to $43.01 billion in March. Imports tumbled 13.9 percent to $33.15 billion.

Overseas shipments of telecommunication devices surged 43.4 percent in March from a year ago due to strong demand for Samsung’s new Galaxy smartphones that rolled out last month.

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Steel products export increased 4.7 percent, but those for semiconductors and automobiles declined 1.5 percent and 5.2 percent respectively.

Exports to the European Union (EU) posted the third consecutive monthly increase, but those to China and the US, South Korea’s top two trading partners, declined 12.3 percent and 3.7 percent each.

Chip imports expanded 7.9 percent last month on demand for cheaper Chinese products, but imports of crude oil tumbled 43 percent on lower oil prices. Car imports dipped 24.1 percent amid the sluggish domestic demand.

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