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(3rd LD) S. Korea's exports rise 11.2 pct on-year in Jan.

All News 11:36 February 01, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES with comments by trade ministry and finance minister)

SEJONG, Feb. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports rose 11.2 percent in January from a year earlier on brisk overseas sales of semiconductors and petrochemicals, the government said Wednesday.

Outbound shipments came to US$40.3 billion last month, up from $36.2 billion tallied a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

It is the first time since January 2013 that the nation's exports have posted double-digit growth. Also for the first time in 33 months, exports expanded for three months in a row.

The upturn is driven by a rise in exports of key industrial goods, such as semiconductors and petrochemicals, the ministry said.

Exports of semiconductors hit an all-time high of $6.41 billion in January, while overseas sales of petrochemicals came to $3.52 billion, the biggest since December 2014.

By region, South Korea's exports to China climbed 13.5 percent on-year last month, marking the first double-digit growth in 41 months.

(3rd LD) S. Korea's exports rise 11.2 pct on-year in Jan. - 1

The trade ministry said exports have attained a steady recovery as they have grown for the third consecutive month since November last year. It also noted that the overhaul of the nation's export structure such as export products, markets and methods appears to be gradually visible.

Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho vowed to make utmost efforts to ensure that exports could prop up Asia's fourth-largest economy this year. In South Korea, exports account for about half of its gross domestic product.

"We will seek support measures tailored" toward boosting exports, Yoo said in a meeting with officials in Seoul.

Still, he acknowledged difficulties facing South Korea's economy, citing policy uncertainties in the Trump administration, Britain's 'hard Brexit' as well as a possible missile launch by North Korea.

Imports expanded 18.6 percent on-year to $37.1 billion in January.

January's trade surplus came to $3.2 billion, marking the 60th consecutive month of a surplus.

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