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(LEAD) S. Korea's exports rebound in Feb. on chips

All News 09:22 March 01, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; ADDS details throughout)
By Kang Yoon-seung

SEOUL, March 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports moved up 4.5 percent in February from a year earlier, marking the first rebound after falling for 14 consecutive months, data showed Sunday, led mostly by the robust performance of memory chips.

Outbound shipments came to US$41.2 billion last month, compared with $39.4 billion posted a year earlier, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Imports moved up 1.4 percent on-year in February to $37.1 billion.

The country's trade surplus came to $4.1 billion in February, marking 97 straight months in which the country's exports have exceeded imports.

This undated file photo shows containers carrying export goods in the southeastern city of Busan, South Korea's largest seaport. (Yonhap)

South Korea's shipments of chips, one of the country's mainstay export items, rebounded for the first time in 15 months, advancing 9.4 percent on-year last month.

The recovery was led by rising demand from data centers, along with an increase in prices of memory chips.

The ministry said the COVID-19 epidemic has emerged as yet another uncertainty for local exporters.

The country's exports to China, the top trading partner and the epicenter of the virus outbreak, dipped 6.6 percent on-year in February.

The weak business sentiment in China weighed down South Korea's exports of petrochemical goods and others to the world's No.2 economy.

South Korea's annual exports fell 10.3 percent in 2019, hit by a slump in the global chip market, coupled with the lengthy trade feud between the United States and China.

For the year, the country's outbound shipments are forecast to rebound 3 percent on eased trade tension between the country's two largest trading partners.

The latest global outbreak of the new coronavirus, however, has made the target less feasible.

colin@yna.co.kr
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