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(LEAD) Exports rise 23 pct in first 20 days of Sept.

Economy 09:22 September 23, 2021

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details from para 3; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Sept. 23 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports rose 22.9 percent on-year in the first 20 days of September on the back of robust demand for chips, petroleum products and autos, customs data showed Thursday.

The country's outbound shipments stood at US$36.1 billion in the Sept. 1-20 period, compared with $29.4 billion a year earlier, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service.

Imports increased 38.8 percent on-year to $35 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $1.12 billion during the cited period, the data showed.

This file photo, taken Aug. 2, 2021, shows stacks of containers at a port in South Korea's southeastern city of Busan. (Yonhap)

By sector, outbound shipments of memory chips, a key export item, rose 7.7 percent on-year and those of autos gained 9.4 percent.

Semiconductors accounted for about 20 percent of exports by South Korea, home to Samsung Electronics Co., the world's largest memory chip maker, and its smaller rival SK hynix Inc. Autos made up around 7 percent of total exports.

Exports of petroleum products jumped 95 percent on-year in the Sept. 1-20 period as oil prices remained high amid the global economic recovery.

By country, shipments to China -- South Korea's largest trading partner -- rose 19.7 percent on-year, and those to the United States increased 24.9 percent.

The South Korean economy is on a recovery track on the back of robust exports. Economic growth momentum remains unscathed despite the latest resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

Exports, which account for half of the economy, rose 35 percent on-year in August, extending their gains to the 10th straight month.

The Bank of Korea forecast Asia's fourth-largest economy to grow 4 percent this year. The government forecast economic growth of 4.2 percent.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Tuesday raised its 2021 growth outlook for the South Korean economy to 4 percent from its May estimate of 3.8 percent.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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