South Korea’s trade surplus rose slightly from a year earlier last month as exports grew at a faster rate than imports, the government said Thursday.
The country’s trade surplus came to $3.9 billion in November, up from $3.61 billion in the same month last year, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy. The November figure, however, marks a drop from a $4.3 billion surplus posted a month earlier.
In November, exports gained 13.8 percent on-year to $47 billion while imports grew 11.3 percent to $43.1 billion.
November marked the 22nd consecutive month the country posted a trade surplus.
“Exports increased at a double-digit rate in November as shipments of key export items grew at a faster-than-expected rate,” the ministry said in a press release.
The country’s trade volume in the first 11 months of the year reached $987.6 billion as South Korea nears its goal of becoming the world’s ninth nation to reach $1 trillion in annual trade volume. The ministry, in charge of trade promotion, said the country’s two-way trade will likely surpass the $1 trillion mark early next week.
South Korea’s exports in the January-November period hit $508.7 billion, rising 20.5 percent from the same period last year to set a new annual high and breach the $500 billion mark for the first time in the country’s history.
November’s export growth was largely led by increases in shipments of petroleum products, such as gasoline and diesel, which jumped 46.2 percent from the same period last year. Exports of automobiles and steel products also surged 30.4 percent and 21.7 percent on-year, respectively.
By nation, exports to developing countries continued to surge with shipments to China also growing 9.2 percent from a year earlier. Exports to Middle Eastern countries rose 23.3 percent with those to the 10 member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations also surging 16.5 percent on-year, according to the ministry.
The growth of imports in November significantly slowed from a 16.4 percent gain in the previous month as imports of oil and other raw materials shrank due to “unusually high temperatures,” the ministry said.
Imports of raw materials grew only 2.2 percent in the first 20 days of November from the same period a month earlier, compared with a 39.8 percent on-month increase during the same period last year.