S. Korea's IT trade surplus widens on brisk exports in March

South Korea's trade surplus in the information-technology (IT) sector widened from a year earlier in March as the growth of exports greatly outpaced that of imports, the government said Tuesday.

The country chalked up a trade surplus of US$ 7.02 billion last month as its outbound shipments of IT products surged 10.1 percent from a year earlier to $ 13.76 billion, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

Imports, on the other hand, gained only 2 percent on-year to $ 6.74 billion. The trade surplus marks a significant growth from a surplus of $ 5.89 billion in March 2012. It also compares with a $ 6.35 billion surplus in the previous month.

"Last month's IT trade surplus was 2.1 times higher than the country's total trade surplus of $ 3.36 billion, which means the IT industry helped maintain the country's overall trade balance in the black," the ministry said in a press release.

IT exports surged on growing demand in most advanced and developing countries, the ministry noted. The country's shipments to the 10-member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations jumped 34 percent on-year to $ 1.88 billion last month, with exports to the European Union and the United States also surging 11.3 percent and 8.1 percent, respectively.

By: product, shipments of smartphones and other mobile communication devices, including their parts, spiked 23.8 percent on-year to $ 1.84 billion with shipments of semiconductors also gaining 6.7 percent to $ 4.6 billion.

Exports of most other key products, including computers and display panels increased from a year earlier except televisions and related parts, whose outbound shipments dropped 4.3 percent from a year earlier in March to $ 510 million, according to the ministry.

Meanwhile, the ministry said the country's IT exports in the first three months of the year surged to a record high of $ 38.71 billion, up 9.4 percent from the same period last year.

The country's IT trade surplus in the first quarter also reached an all-time high of $ 19.47 billion, it added.