(ATTN: ADDS more details in paras 2, 4-13)
SEOUL, April 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports jumped 18.2 percent in March from a year earlier to reach an all-time monthly high on the back of brisk demand for chips and petroleum products, data showed Friday.
But high global energy prices also pushed up the country's imports to a record high last month, leading the country to post a trade deficit, according to the data compiled by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
Outbound shipments stood at US$63.48 billion in March, up from $53.69 billion a year earlier. It is the highest tally since the ministry began compiling related data in 1956.
The previous record was set December last year when the figure came to $60.7 billion, the ministry said.
The average daily export volume also reached the highest figure of $2.76 billion last month, beating the previous record of 2.69 billion set in February 2022, the data showed.
March marked the 17th consecutive month that the country's exports have logged an on-year expansion. Exports also posted a double digit growth for the 13th month in a row last month.
Imports surged 27.9 percent on-year to $63.62 billion, also recording a record monthly high amid high energy prices, leading the country to post a trade deficit of $140 million, the data showed.
Dubai crude, South Korea's benchmark, stood at $110.93 per barrel in March on average, up more than 50 percent from $64.44 a year earlier.
South Korea depends on imports for most of its energy needs, and its energy imports reached a record high of $16.19 billion in March, up from $7.72 billion a year earlier, the ministry said.
The country posted a trade deficit of $140 million in March, a turnaround from a trade surplus of $831 million the previous month.
By item, overseas demand for the country's major export items grew amid a global economic recovery, with sales of semiconductors and petrochemical products reaching an all-time high of $13.12 billion and $5.42 billion, respectively.
Shipments of petro products spiked 90.1 percent amid soaring global energy prices, and steelmakers saw their overseas sales jump 26.8 percent on-year last month.
Bio firms also enjoyed a 24.2 percent on-year export increase in March amid the prolonged pandemic across the globe, the data showed.
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