Seoul, Mar 1 (efe-epa).- South Korea registered a trade surplus of 2.7 billion dollars in February, the 10th consecutive month of a positive balance that, nevertheless, marked a reduction of 33.9 percent year-on-year, the government said Monday.
Exports rose 9.5 percent from February 2020 to $ 44.8 billion, thanks to chip and car shipments and a recovery in business sentiment as Covid-19 vaccination spreads, according to data from the Commerce, Industry and Energy Ministry.
Imports grew 13.9 percent in the second month of 2021, to $ 42.1 billion.
Chip shipments increased 13.2 percent in February, its eighth consecutive month of increase; while vehicle sales outside the country soared 47 percent year-on-year.
The recovery in oil prices helped improve exports of petrochemicals and crude oil products. Shipments of petrochemical products increased 22.4 percent from a year earlier, while those of petroleum products were down 15.2 percent, their smallest contraction since April 2020.
The strong demand for Covid-19 test kits was one of the factors that contributed to the 62.5 percent year-on-year growth of exports related to the health sector.
By country, exports to China increased by 26.5 percent year-on-year and those to the United States by 7.9 percent. These are South Korea’s main trading partners and account for about 40 percent of its shipments.
Exports to the European Union soared 48.2 percent.
Experts hope the Covid-19 vaccination campaign, which began Friday in South Korea, will accelerate the recovery of exports this year.
South Korean shipments fell 5.4 percent year-on-year in 2020, the year the country’s economy fell 1 percent, its sharpest contraction since the 1997 financial crisis.
The central bank last week improved its prospects for 2021, as it expects exports to grow by 7.1 percent, and maintained its growth prospects for its gross domestic product at 3 percent, although it did not rule out a review based on the evolution of the pandemic. EFE-EPA