SEJONG, June 1 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s exports dropped significantly in May from a year earlier though its trade surplus expanded as imports shrank at a faster rate, the government said Monday.
In May, the country’s overall outbound shipments came to US$42.39 billion, down 10.9 percent from the same month last year.
May marked the fifth consecutive month of an on-year drop in exports. Imports also plunged 15.3 percent on-year to $36.07 billion in May.
The country’s trade surplus came to $6.32 billion, compared with a surplus of $4.97 billion in May 2014. May also marked the 40th consecutive month of trade surplus.
The large drop in exports was partly attributed to a cut in global oil prices, which, in turn, pulled down the price of petroleum products, major export items of South Korea.
“Exports dropped by the largest margin since the beginning of the year in May as negative factors, such as low oil prices and a global economic downturn, continued to persist while the number of working days was also cut by one day from a year earlier,” the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a press release.
In May, shipments of petroleum products, such as gasoline and diesel, tumbled 40 percent on-year while exports of petrochemical products also plunged 22.8 percent.
Outbound shipments of mobile communication devices spiked 26.6 percent on-year while those of semiconductors, the country’s single largest export item, grew 4.8 percent.
By country, shipments to China, the world’s largest market for South Korean products, slipped 3.3 percent on-year while shipments to the United States and Japan also dropped 7.1 percent and 13.2 percent, respectively.