July brings 30th straight trade surplus

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July brings 30th straight trade surplus

Korea recorded its 30th consecutive monthly trade surplus in July, with the balance growing to $2.52 billion, according to data released yesterday by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The surplus represents a 2.8 increase from last year’s $2.45 billion.

Exports during July totaled $48.4 billion, up 5.7 percent from a year ago, while imports grew at a high for the year of 5.8 percent to $45.9 billion, according to the Trade Ministry.

Shipments of smartphones and other mobile devices spiked 24.6 percent year-on-year to $2.6 billion, thanks to the growth of emerging markets and release of LG Electronics’ new flagship G3.

Steel shipments also grew 22.4 percent year-on-year to $3.2 billion, thanks to recovering economies in the United States and Japan, while automobile exports rose 20.8 percent to $4.3 billion.

However, Korea saw exports of ships plunge 13.7 percent from July 2013 to $2.18 billion. Shipments of computers also dropped 12.2 percent to $610 million, which the ministry attributed to more overseas manufacturing by Korean companies.

By country, exports jumped 19.4 percent year-on-year to the United States and 11.5 percent to European Union countries.

However, the ministry was worried that shipments to China have declined for the past three months after posting a 7 percent year-on-year drop in July. China is the largest buyer of Korean products, accounting for nearly a quarter of Korea’s total exports last year.

The rise of imports was led by raw materials, especially crude oil and petroleum products. Korea imported $8.9 billion worth of crude last month, up 3.3 percent from a year ago.

Even though the volume of crude oil imports decreased, higher prices bumped up the value compared to a year ago. The average price of crude jumped 7 percent year-on-year to $112 per barrel in July, the ministry said.

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [kjoo@joongang.co.kr ]

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