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By Kang Yoon-seung
SEJONG, Aug. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports decreased 11 percent in July from a year earlier, extending their on-year fall to an eighth consecutive month, amid the drawn-out trade dispute between the United States and China, and a decline in prices of semiconductors, data showed Thursday.
Outbound shipments came to US$46.14 billion for July, down from the $51.8 billion tallied a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
Imports fell 2.7 percent on-year last month to $43.7 billion, the ministry added.
The country's trade surplus came to $2.44 billion in July, marking 90 straight months in which the country's exports have exceeded imports.
The sluggish exports were mostly attributable to the growing trade disputes around the globe, including the rift between the United States and China, according to the ministry.
The falling global prices of memory chips and crude also weighed on overall exports, it added.
Outbound shipments of semiconductors, the country's main export good, dropped by a whopping 28.1 percent last month from a year earlier, and the petrochemical segment suffered a 12.4 percent drop in exports over the cited period, the ministry said.
Exports of vehicles, on the other hand, improved 21.6 percent over the cited period.
By country, South Korea's exports to China decreased 16.4 percent on-year in July, falling for the ninth consecutive month as Chinese firms raised the production of organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays.
Outbound shipments to the U.S. moved down 0.7 percent, according to the ministry.
Amid the growing trade dispute with its Asian neighbor, South Korea's exports to Japan edged down 0.3 percent in July from a year earlier due to sluggish shipments of petrochemical goods and semiconductors.
Starting in July, Tokyo began implementing tougher restrictions on South Korea-bound shipments of three key materials vital for the production of semiconductors and displays.
Japan is set to further expand export restrictions to other areas as early as this week that centers on removing Seoul from its so-called "whitelist" of trusted trading partners.
Tokyo's latest export curbs against South Korea, meanwhile, gave only a limited impact on exports last month, the ministry said, although the prolonged dispute would cast a pall over Asia's No. 4 economy.
Industry Minister Sung Yun-mo said South Korea will roll out various countermeasures, including the filing of a complaint with the World Trade Organization, should Japan drop South Korea from the list of trusted trade partners.
South Korea's exports to Japan reached $30.5 billion in 2018, accounting for 5 percent of its combined outbound shipments, according to the ministry.
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