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By Kang Yoon-seung
SEOUL, Jan. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports fell 10.3 percent in 2019 after setting a record high performance the year before, due mainly to a slump in the global chip market coupled with the trade feud between the world's top two economies, data showed Wednesday.
Outbound shipments came to US$542.4 billion last year, compared with $604.8 billion posted a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
Imports moved down 6 percent on-year to $503.2 billion.
Despite weak performance, South Korea still managed to post a combined trade volume above 1 trillion won for the third year.
The trade surplus came to $39.1 billion in 2019, marking the 11th consecutive year the country has posted a surplus.
Last year's slump in exports was mainly attributable to uncertainties in the global economy, the ministry said.
The trade row between the United States and China, which are also major trading partners of South Korea, was responsible for a loss of $10.7 billion in its outbound shipments, according to its estimate.
The industrywide slump in the chip segment, the backbone of Asia's No. 4 economy, caused a loss of $32.8 billion. Other negative factors included the decrease in the oil price that led to a decline of $13.4 billion in overall outbound shipments.
For December, the monthly exports slipped 5.2 percent on-year to $45.7 billion to extend their slump to a whopping 13th consecutive month.
Imports fell 0.7 percent on-year last month to $43.7 billion. The country's trade surplus came to $2 billion in December, marking 95 straight months in which the country's exports have exceeded imports.
Exports of chips plunged 17.7 percent last month from a year earlier. Outbound shipments of ships also decreased 57.9 percent over the cited period.
When excluding the two segments, South Korea's exports for December edged up 2.6 percent on-year.
Reflecting the progress in the Sino-American trade negotiations, exports to China advanced 3.3 percent in December, marking the first on-year rise in 14 months.
Outbound shipments to the United States moved down 0.4 percent.
South Korea's exports are anticipated to rebound in 2020 by rising 3 percent to $560 billion, according to the ministry.
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