Roundup: S. Korea logs trade deficit for 6th month in September

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SEOUL, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- South Korea logged trade deficit for the sixth consecutive month in September owing to faster growth in import than export, caused by higher energy costs, government data showed Saturday.

Trade deficit amounted to 3.77 billion U.S. dollars in September, staying in red for six months since April, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

The country posted trade deficits of 2.48 billion dollars in April, 1.59 billion dollars in May, 2.5 billion dollars in June, 5.08 billion dollars in July and a record high of 9.49 billion dollars in August respectively.

The six successive months of deficits marked the first time in 25 years since 1997 when the Asian foreign exchange crisis roiled the South Korean economy.

Export added 2.8 percent from a year earlier to 57.46 billion dollars in September, while import surged 18.6 percent to 61.23 billion dollars.

Import increased at a faster pace than export for the 16th consecutive month since June last year, topping 60 billion dollars for seven months in a row.

The rapid import increase was driven by soaring energy prices amid the continued geopolitical risks in Europe.

Import of the country's three energy sources, including crude oil, natural gas and coal, came to 17.96 billion dollars in September, up 81.2 percent from a year earlier.

Import of semiconductors and precision chemical materials, such as lithium hydroxide used to make batteries, went up 19.8 percent and 51.8 percent respectively.

The country's export continued to grow for 23 straight months, but the growth pace slowed in recent months with the expansion of 8.7 percent in July, 6.6 percent in August and 2.8 percent in September.

Semiconductor export, which accounts for about one-fifth of the country's total outbound shipment, fell 5.7 percent to 11.49 billion dollars in September due to weaker purchasing power among global consumers amid the still high inflation.

The shipment of mobile devices shrank 7.0 percent to 1.68 billion dollars on soft demand for smartphones, especially from Asia.

Shipment for display panels and computers declined in double figures to 1.74 billion dollars and 1.42 billion dollars each.

Automotive export recorded the largest September figure of 4.79 billion dollars thanks to stronger demand for eco-friendly vehicles, while auto parts shipment gained 8.7 percent to 2.01 billion dollars.

Oil products export jumped 52.7 percent to 5.46 billion dollars on expensive crude oil, but petrochemical shipment diminished 15.1 percent to 4.07 billion dollars amid the remaining supply glut.

Steel products shipment tumbled 21.1 percent to 2.69 billion dollars last month, marking the first slide in 21 months owing to weaker global demand and the damages inflicted by typhoons on local steel mills.

General machinery export slipped 1.5 percent to 4.01 billion dollars, but secondary batteries shipment soared 30.4 percent to 940 million dollars last month.

Export to the United States advanced 16.0 percent to 9.27 billion dollars on solid demand for electric vehicles, auto parts and secondary batteries, while shipment to the European Union (EU) fell 0.7 percent to 5.42 billion dollars.

Shipment to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) rose 7.6 percent to 10.34 billion dollars last month, surpassing 10 billion dollars for 11 successive months amid the economic recovery in the region.

Exports to Japan, India and the Middle East grew in single digits to 2.60 billion dollars, 1.62 billion dollars and 1.40 billion dollars respectively. Enditem

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