SEOUL, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's export, which accounts for about half of the export-driven economy, fell for the second consecutive month on slumping demand for locally-made semiconductor, a government report showed Friday.
The country's outbound shipment shrank 5.8 percent over the year to 46.35 billion U.S. dollars in January, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
It marked the second consecutive month of reduction, after sliding 1.2 percent in December.
Import shed 1.7 percent to 45.02 billion dollars, sending the January trade surplus to 1.33 billion dollars. The trade balance stayed in the black for 84 months in a row.
The export decline came as demand weakened for semiconductor, which took up around 20 percent of the country's total outbound shipment. Chip export tumbled 23.3 percent in January from a year earlier.
Semiconductor shipment led an expansion of the country's overall export last year, which topped 600 billion dollars for the first time in history.
Chip demand began to weaken in the fourth quarter of last year, leading to poor earnings of major local chipmakers, such as Samsung Electronics, in the final quarter.
Exports for oil product and petrochemicals slumped 4.8 percent and 5.3 percent, respectively, on lower global crude oil price.
Shipment of telecommunications device, such as smartphone, plunged 29.9 percent in the first month of this year on stiffer competition and weak demand for local mobile phones.
Display panel export retreated last month on soft demand for liquid crystal display (LCD) panel, while the export of ship posted a double-digit reduction.
Automobile export advanced 13.4 percent in January on demand from the United States and the European Union (EU), topping 3 billion dollars for the fourth consecutive month.
Auto parts export logged a double-digit increase at 2.06 billion dollars in January, and steel shipment expanded on higher produce price.
Among export items, which the government was fostering as new growth engines, the export of secondary battery grew 14.5 percent in January, with organic light-emitting diode (OLED) shipment going up 12.8 percent.
Electric vehicle shipment recorded a triple-digit increase last month, and cosmetics export inched up 0.9 percent on demand from Asia and Southeast Asian nations.
By region, export of China, South Korea's biggest trading partner, tumbled 19.1 percent last month on soft demand for chip, oil product, general machinery and smartphone.
Exports to the United States, the EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) kept growing for four straight months, but shipment to Vietnam retreated on weak demand for chip, general machinery and smartphone.