(ATTN: ADDS more details in last 10 paras)
SEOUL, June 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports fell 3.4 percent in the first 20 days of June from a year earlier due mainly to fewer working days, and its trade deficit widened on higher global energy costs, customs data showed Tuesday.
The country's outbound shipments stood at US$31.28 billion in the June 1-20 period, compared with $32.4 billion a year earlier, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service.
The fall is attributable to fewer working days during the cited period due to holidays for the June 1 local elections and Memorial Day on June 6. This year's number of 13.5 days compares to the 15.5 days for the same period last year.
Imports jumped 21.1 percent on-year to $38.93 billion during the cited period over a surge in global oil, coal and gas prices caused by the war in Ukraine.
The country reported a $7.64 billion trade deficit during the cited period, a turnaround from a trade surplus of $236 million a year earlier, the data showed.
If the trend continues, the country is poised to post a trade deficit for the third consecutive month in June.
Imports of crude oil soared 63.8 percent during the first 20 days of the month. Combined with coal and gas imports, the country's inbound shipments of the key energy resources jumped 67.5 percent on-year to $9.26 million. South Korea heavily relies on imports for most of its energy needs.
Dubai crude, South Korea's benchmark, came to $108.43 per barrel Monday, up around 51 percent from a year earlier.
By sector, exports of semiconductors, a key export item, rose 1.9 percent on-year. Chips accounted for about 20 percent of the country's exports.
Outbound shipments of petroleum products soared 88.3 percent on-year on the back of high oil prices.
But sales of auto and auto parts declined 23.5 percent and 14.7 percent, respectively, amid a prolonged shortage of automotive chips.
By country, exports to China, South Korea's largest trading partner, fell 6.8 percent and those to the United States and the European Union lost 2.1 percent an 5.3 percent, respectively. But exports to Taiwan went up 16.5 percent, and those to Singapore advanced 54.9 percent.
In May, exports rose 21.3 percent on-year, extending their gains to the 19th month in a row, according to the trade ministry. But high oil and commodity prices drove up the country's imports, resulting in a trade deficit of $1.71 billion.
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