(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; ADDS details throughout)
By Kang Yoon-seung
SEOUL, Oct. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports have extended their gains to 11 consecutive months and set a record high level by rising 16.7 percent, data showed Friday, maintaining solid growth despite growing concerns over the spread of COVID-19 variants around the globe.
Outbound shipments came to US$55.8 billion last month, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
The monthly figure was the highest since South Korea started compiling such data in 1956. The previous record was $55.4 billion posted in July this year.
Imports climbed 31 percent to $51.6 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $4.2 billion. It marked the 17th consecutive month for the country to post a trade surplus.
The September exports were slightly above what the market had been expecting.
According to a poll by Yonhap Infomax, the financial arm of Yonhap News Agency, the country's September exports were estimated to have risen 15 percent.
By sector, exports of chips moved up 28.2 percent to reach $12.1 billion, on the back of solid demand from both server and mobile segments.
It marked the 15th consecutive month for the shipments of semiconductors to grow on-year.
Other major winners included petrochemical products, whose shipments soared 52 percent on-year on the back of the strong demand for the construction industry. Exports of petroleum also jumped a whopping 79 percent.
Overseas sales of steel products gained 42 percent due to the hike in global prices.
Sales of automobiles, on the other hand, slipped 6.1 percent to reach $3.5 billion, amid the global shortages of automotive chips.
By destination, exports to China gained 17.3 percent on-year in September to $14.3 billion, with shipments to the United States also moving up 14.5 percent to $8 billion.
South Korea's economy grew slightly faster than expected in the second quarter, thanks to a robust recovery of exports and the service sectors, according to the data that the central bank provided last month.
The nation's economy grew 0.8 percent in the April-June period from three months earlier, 0.1 percentage point higher than earlier expected, according to preliminary data from the Bank of Korea.
Midsized shipbuilders' orders bounce back after finalizing their sale deals
Global new orders for ships likely to dwindle next year
Construction equipment makers seeking market diversification
'Half-success' of rocket launch creates new tasks for S. Korea's space program
EU's probe suspension leaves S. Korean shipbuilders' biz combination in limbo