Decrease in exports to EU take a bite out of S. Korea trade surplus


South Korea’s trade surplus fell in March from a year earlier due to a drop in exports to debt-hit Europe and slowing sales to China, the government said Sunday.

The trade surplus was US$2.33 billion, compared with US$2.48 billion in March 2011. Exports fell to US$47.36 billion, down 1.4 percent year-on-year, while imports also dipped 1.2 percent to US$45.03 billion on falling purchases of products including memory chips, it said.

“Sales to the EU have dramatically dropped in the aftermath of its fiscal crisis and sales to China have considerably slowed, limiting our export growth,” the Knowledge Economy Ministry said.

Exports to the European Union, South Korea’s second-largest trading partner after China, fell 20 percent, while sales to China grew only 0.7 percent in the same period, it said.

In March 2011, exports to China posted year-on-year growth of 9.2 percent. Overseas sales of South Korea’s flagship mobile devices dropped 32 percent from March 2011, it said. Exports of ships also tumbled 27.6 percent as demand from major European shipping operators slowed.

Exports of home appliances including TVs also dipped 14.1 percent.

“TV exports slowed as flat-panel TV markets in advanced countries are increasingly saturated … Exports to China also fell as China’s domestic firms expand presence,” the ministry said.