By Kang Yoon-seung
SEOUL, March 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports are expected to rise 18.3 percent in March from a year earlier to extend the gains for the fifth consecutive month, led by strong demand for chips and automobiles, a poll showed Monday.
Outbound shipments are expected to reach US$54.6 billion this month, according to the poll by Yonhap Infomax, the financial news arm of Yonhap News Agency. The survey was conducted on eight brokerage houses.
Imports are estimated to rise 17.8 percent over the period to reach $49.2 billion won, resulting in a trade surplus of $5.3 billion.
The country's exports rose 12.5 percent on-year in the first 20 days of March, separate data compiled by the Korea Customs Service showed earlier.
The robust outlook was in part attributable to the base effect from last year, when the country's outbound shipments fell 0.2 percent on-year in March at the early stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Major trade partners also resumed their business activities as they gradually recovered from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
By segment, chips, the mainstay export product, were expected to expand 13.6 percent on-year this month, leading the overall gains. The segment normally takes up roughly 20 percent of the combined outbound shipments.
Automobiles are anticipated to post a 13 percent growth, with those of petrochemical products set to rise 12.4 percent.
In February, South Korea's exports rose 9.5 percent on-year on the back of robust shipments of chips, autos and other key products.
Last year, the country's outbound shipments came to $512.8 billion, down 5.4 percent from 2019.
In February, the central bank revised up its 2021 growth forecast of exports to 7.1 percent from its estimate in November of 5.3 percent.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy will release its official monthly trade data Thursday.
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