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

All News 09:21 December 21, 2021

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details from para 3)

SEOUL, Dec. 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports grew 20 percent on-year in the first 20 days of December on the back of solid demand for chips and petroleum products, customs data showed Tuesday.

The country's outbound shipments stood at US$36.9 billion in the Dec. 1-20 period, compared with $30.7 billion a year earlier, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service.

Imports jumped 42.1 percent on-year to $39.6 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $2.66 billion during the cited period, the data showed.

This file photo, taken Dec. 13, 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 27.5 percent on-year.

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.

Exports of petroleum products jumped 88.8 percent as oil prices remained high amid the global economic recovery.

Shipments of autos, meanwhile, declined 4.1 percent on-year amid a global shortage of automotive chips. Autos accounted for some 7 percent of South Korea's exports.

By country, shipments to China, South Korea's largest trading partner, rose 22.5 percent on-year, and those to the United States gained 19.4 percent.

The South Korean economy is on a recovery track on the back of robust exports.

Exports, which account for half of the economy, grew 32 percent on-year to a record high of $60.44 billion in November, extending their gains to the 13th straight month.

The country's exports are set to exceed $640 billion this year, hitting a record high. The government set the annual target of exports at around $660 billion for next year.

The Bank of Korea forecast Asia's fourth-largest economy will expand 4 percent this year and grow 3 percent next year. The finance ministry expects the Korean economy to grow 3.1 percent in 2022.

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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