SEOUL, July 1 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's export posted a double-digit fall last month on the protracted downturn in business cycle of the global semiconductor industry, a government report showed Monday.
Export, which accounts for about half of the export-driven economy, declined 13.5 percent over the year to 44.18 billion U.S. dollars in June, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
It was the fastest fall in about three and a half years since January 2016, keeping a downward trend for the seventh consecutive month.
Import diminished 11.1 percent to 40.01 billion dollars in the cited period, sending the trade surplus to 4.17 billion dollars. The trade balance stayed in the black for 89 months in a row.
For the first six months of this year, the outbound shipment amounted to 271.55 billion dollars, down 8.5 percent compared with the same period of last year.
The import shed 5.1 percent to 252 billion dollars in the first half, leading the trade surplus to 19.55 billion dollars.
The continued reduction in export was attributable to the prolonged downturn of the global chip industry. In June, the global semiconductor price plunged 33.2 percent.
Prices for petrochemicals and oil products dipped 17.3 percent and 11.6 percent respectively last month.
The ministry said the lower price of major export items pulled down the overall shipment, noting that export volume remained solid.
During the January-June period, the export volume inched up 0.3 percent from a year earlier, despite the 8.5 percent reduction in terms of export value.
Excluding the semiconductor shipment, the export shed 4.8 percent in the first half from a year earlier.
Chip export tumbled 25.5 percent in June from a year ago on lower memory chip price, soft demand for smartphone and the inventory adjustment of global data centers, according to the ministry.
Petrochemical shipment contracted 24.5 percent last month on cheaper crude oil and the halt of operation in some of domestic facilities. Oil product export diminished 24.2 percent.
Steel product export reduced 8.2 percent on lower product price, and display panel shipment dropped 18.5 percent amid the global supply glut.
Shipment of telecommunication devices such as smartphone plunged 23 percent due to stiffer competition, caused by weaker global demand.
Automobile export advanced 8.1 percent as global demand increased for locally-made sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and environmentally-friendly cars.
Ship export surged 46.4 percent amid growing demand for liquified natural gas (LNG) carriers and very large crude carriers (VLCCs).
Export of the bio-healthcare sector grew 4.4 percent on solid demand for biosimilar especially in Europe. Secondary battery export continued to rise for 33 straight months through June.
Electric vehicle shipment more than doubled in June on demand from the United States and the European Union (EU), keeping an upward momentum for 29 straight months.
Export to the United States shed 2.5 percent on lower demand for semiconductors, telecommunication devices and petrochemicals.
Shipment to the EU fell 3.1 percent amid the economic slump in Germany, South Korea's biggest export country in the EU.
Exports to Japan, India, Southeast Asian countries and the Middle East all declined last month.