SEJONG, April 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports rose 6.1 percent in March from a year earlier, largely thanks to strong demand for semiconductors and petrochemical goods, the customs office said Monday.
The country's outbound shipments were tallied at US$51.6 billion in March, compared with $44.6 billion a year earlier, according to the Korea Customs Service.
The March tally marks the 17th straight month that the country's monthly exports increased.
Imports rose 5.2 percent over the cited period to $44.8 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $6.8 billion, it added.
Chip exports surged 43.9 percent in March from a year earlier, providing a big boost to last month's export growth. Shipments of petrochemical goods advanced 1.1 percent, but those for automobile and ships dropped 8.1 percent and 30.9 percent, respectively.
Shipments to China, South Korea's biggest trading partner, advanced 16.6 percent, but those to the United States, the second-largest overseas market for locally made goods, fell 1 percent. Exports to Vietnam also sank 3.3 percent over the cited period, the office said.
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