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SEJONG, July 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports extended their winning streak for the eighth month in a row by expanding 13.7 percent last month on recovering global commerce, the trade ministry said Saturday.
Outbound shipments came to US$51.4 billion in June, up from $45.2 billion tallied a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
The latest number marked the second-largest monthly volume since October 2014, when shipments reached $51.6 billion, while it posted double-digit growth for six months in a row for the first time in nearly six years.
The average export value per working day advanced 13.7 percent on-year to $2.24 billion to record the seventh consecutive month of growth, with won-denominated shipments also rising 9.8 percent, marking eighth months that this number has advanced.
The country's exports have been rising steadily since November led by an upturn in oil prices and recovering global trade.
Imports also soared 18 percent on-year to $40 billion in June.
Last month's trade surplus came to $11.4 billion, the 66-straight month that the country's exports have exceeded imports, the ministry said.
The trade ministry said the rally in exports is led by rising global demand for South Korea's key export items including semiconductors, ships, petrochemicals and flat displays.
Exports of locally made chips soared 52 percent on-year in June to a record $8.03 billion on the back of steady price hikes and increasing demand for personal computers. Semiconductors have been playing a major part in spearheading the upbeat mode in the country's exports since last year.
Overseas sales of flat screens continued their upside cycle to rise 10 percent last month from a year earlier on stellar sales of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels, while exports of ships surged 43.2 percent in June to an all-time high of $7.37 billion.
Outbound shipments of petrochemicals increased 15.6 percent for the sixth consecutive month in June on an uptick in oil prices, and those of vehicles moved up 1.3 percent.
However, exports of wireless devices plunged 35.9 percent on-year to extend their losing streak to 11 months mainly due to the expansion of overseas production by local companies.
Shipments of auto parts also decreased 12.6 percent as local carmakers expanded their overseas manufacturing plants, while overseas sales of home appliances slumped 25.7 percent on-year in June.
By region, South Korea's shipments to China, the largest export market, gained 5.1 percent last month from a year earlier to mark the first eight straight months of gains since April 2014, while those to Vietnam shot up 62.2 percent, expanding for the 17th month in a row.
Exports to Japan also landed in positive terrain for the eighth month in a row to post a 10.8-percent on-year increase in June led by a rise in exports of petrochemicals and steel products, while the European Union's imports from South Korea jumped 21.1 percent last month from a year earlier.
Exports to the United States, however, edged down 1.1 percent in June due mainly to a drop in demand for cars and wireless devices. A trade surplus with the world's largest economy fell by $910 million last month thanks to a 22-percent jump in imports from the U.S.
For the first six months of the year, South Korea's exports rose 15.8 percent on-year to $279.4 billion, while imports vaulted 21 percent to $233.6 billion, with the trade surplus hitting $45.8 billion.
Exports and imports both marked the largest highest half year tally since 2014 on the upturn in oil prices, and recovering demand for chips, steel and displays lent strong support to the bullish performance of trade.
The trade ministry said South Korea's exports will grow 10 percent to $545 billion by the end of 2017 on the back of recovering world economy and expanding global trade. Imports will likely rise 14 percent on-year to $463 billion.
"Exports will post double-digit growth this year for the first time in six years, with South Korea's annual trade likely to reach the $1 trillion level," the trade ministry predicted. "But we have to check some possible downside pressures such as a sharp fall in oil prices and strengthening trade protectionism."
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