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SEOUL, April 1 (Yonhap) -- Exports by South Korean venture companies have surged 12-fold in almost two decades, far surpassing the growth of the country's overall outbound shipments, data showed Monday.

According to the data compiled by the Korea International Trade Association (KITA), venture firms' exports reached US$17.7 billion last year, compared with $1.4 billion in 1995 when the association began to compile related data.

The country's overall exports more than quadrupled to $548 billion from $125 billion over the cited period, according to the data.

Semiconductors topped the export list with $1.1 billion, followed by wireless telecommunications equipment with $1.08 billion, plastic goods with $869 million, and auto parts with $734 million.

The data showed the exports of auto parts, in particular, had posted the highest growth rate over the cited period surging to $734 million from a meager $2 million.

By region, exports to Asia accounted for 62 percent of the total exports with $10.9 billion, with shipments to North America and Europe each making up 13.2 percent with $2.35 billion, the data showed.

The data showed that venture firms' inroads into overseas markets have weakened in the 2000s on a lack of entrepreneurship and increased competition.

Between 1995 and 2001, their exports grew at an annual rate of 26.4 percent, much higher than the 3.6 percent rise in the country's overall exports.

Venture firms' exports increased at an annual average rate of 11.8 percent between 2002 and 2012, growing slower than the growth of 13.1 percent in overall outbound shipments, according to the data.

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