SEOUL, Sept. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's trade surplus widened from a year earlier last month as the growth of its exports significantly outpaced that of its imports, the government said Sunday.
In August, the country's outbound shipments came to about US$46.36 billion, up 7.7 percent from the same month last year, while its imports only inched up 0.8 percent on-year to some $41.45 billion, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
The country's trade surplus more than doubled from $1.93 billion in August 2012 to $4.91 billion last month. The August figure also compares with a surplus of $2.71 billion in the previous month.
"The country posted a trade surplus for the 19th consecutive month in August as its exports further increased, showing signs of a gradual recovery," the ministry said in a press release.
The country's exports rose largely on growing shipments to the United States and Asian countries, including China, the ministry noted.
"The country continued to expand the growth of its exports despite a move by the United States to shrink its quantitative easing, as well as other negative factors such as economic difficulties faced by newly emerging countries," it said.
Exports to the United States jumped 17.9 percent on-year with shipments to the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations also surging 15.6 percent.
Shipments to China increased 12.8 percent on-year while those to Japan and the European Union plunged 13.2 percent and 8.8 percent, respectively.
By product, outbound shipments of home appliances and mobile communication devices surged 26 percent and 25.9 percent on-year to $1.45 billion and $2.19 billion, in that order, with shipments of semiconductors also jumping 22.1 percent to $5 billion, according to the ministry.
Shipments of automobiles spiked 43.9 percent on-year to $3.63 billion, but this was largely due to what the ministry called a base effect. The country's exports of cars plunged 21.6 percent in August 2012 due to a significant drop in output here caused by a walkout by unionized workers of Hyundai Motor Co., the country's largest automaker.
Exports of steel and petroleum products, on the other hand, dropped 5.9 percent and 6.9 percent on-year to $2.71 billion and $4.57 billion, respectively.
The ministry said the growth of the country's overall imports was kept at a minimum as its purchase of raw materials plunged 10.7 percent on-year while its imports of capital goods, such as equipment, gained only 7.7 percent.
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