SEOUL, July 1 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's trade surplus hit a new record high last month as the falling pace of exports slowed despite the longest monthly decline, a government report showed on Friday.
Trade surplus reached a new monthly record high of 11.64 billion U.S. dollars in June, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. The June figure was sharply up from a surplus of 6.98 billion dollars in May due to slower fall in exports.
Exports, which account for about half of the export-driven economy, fell 2.7 percent in June from a year earlier, posting the slowest monthly decline in a year. The June exports reached 45.3 billion U.S. dollars, down from 46.56 billion dollars tallied a year earlier.
The country's exports maintained the longest monthly reduction for 18 straight months since January last year, but the falling pace slowed from 11.2 percent in April to 6.0 percent in May and 2.7 percent in June each.
Daily average exports amounted to 1.97 billion dollars in June, the largest in nine months. In local currency terms, the exports increased 2.4 percent in June from a year earlier, raising corporate profitability for local exporters.
Imports declined at a faster pace than exports, falling 8.0 percent from a year earlier to 33.66 billion dollars in June. Both exports and imports reduced for 18 straight months since January last year.
Faster fall in imports than exports also contributed to the record-high trade surplus. The trade balance stayed in black for 53 months from February 2012.
By item, ship and computer exports posted a double-digit increase last month, but other key products kept a downward momentum. Chip exports fell 0.5 percent in June, but it was down from a 4.4 percent decline in May thanks to higher memory chip prices and demand for chips used in smartphones.
Steel export fall slowed from 4.2 percent in May to 2.3 percent in June on stable prices in steel products, and auto parts shipments inched down 0.5 percent on improved trade terms in exports to China. Exports of telecommunication devices such as smartphones dipped 1.4 percent in June.
Car exports fall picked up from 8.9 percent in May to 12.3 percent in June on soft demand from emerging economies, while flat screen exports tumbled 25.2 percent due to continued fall in LCD panel prices.
Exports of oil products and petrochemicals posted a double-digit decline amid low crude oil prices, while general machinery shipments shrank 4.6 percent on weak emerging market demand.
Cosmetics exports surged 56.1 percent as a growing popularity of South Korean pop culture raised demand for beauty products used by celebrities. Medicine exports soared 35.1 percent on demand from Latin American and European nations, and textile exports jumped 58.0 percent.
For the first six months of this year, the country's trade surplus reached a fresh record high of 49.5 billion dollars due to faster fall in imports than exports.
Exports declined 10.0 percent from a year earlier to 241.8 billion dollars in the first half, while imports slumped 13.5 percent to about 192.2 billion dollars.