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SEJONG, Oct. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's trade surplus widened from a year earlier last month despite a slight drop in exports as its imports shrank at a faster rate, the government said Tuesday.
In September, the country's exports dropped 1.5 percent from the same month last year to US$44.74 billion, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
Its imports dropped 3.6 percent on-year to about $41.03 billion with its trade surplus coming to $3.71 billion.
The trade surplus for September compares with a surplus of $3.07 billion in September 2012. It, however, marks a drop from a surplus of $4.85 billion posted in August.
The ministry attributed the drop in both exports and imports to a decline in the number of working days in September due to the three-day Chuseok holiday, the Korean equivalent of Thanksgiving.
"Both exports and imports shrank slightly from a year earlier due to a drop in the number of working days (by two days), but the country posted a trade surplus for the 20th consecutive month," it said in a press release.
The ministry said the daily average of the country's exports reached a record high of $2.24 billion with its total exports in the July-September period growing 2.9 percent on-year.
The country's exports of vessels jumped 59.7 percent on-year with outbound shipments of semiconductors also surging 21.4 percent.
The ministry said the increase in shipments of semiconductors was largely prompted by a significant rise in prices, which more than doubled to $1.83 for each 2-gigabite dynamic random access memory chip from $0.85 in September 2012.
Shipments of automobiles and petroleum products, on the other hand, plunged 11.9 percent and 13 percent on-year, respectively, with those of steel products and liquid crystal display (LCD) panels also slumping 16.3 percent and 19.8 percent.
By nation, the country's exports to the 10-member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations gained 5 percent on-year with shipments to Latin American countries also growing 4.7 percent.
Shipments to China gained only 1.4 percent on-year while those to the United States slipped 0.7 percent.
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