South Korea March exports drop but not by as much as expected
S.Korea March exports fall for sixth straight month
Exports to China suffer sharpest drop in over 14 years
First quarter marks worst in nearly three years
Adds more data
By Jihoon Lee
SEOUL, April 1 (Reuters) -South Korea's exports fell in March year-on-year for the sixth month in a row, hit by a cooling global economy and a persistent slump in the semiconductor sector, but exports did not fall by as much as expected, data showed on Saturday.
Asia's fourth-largest economy exported goods worth $55.12 billion in March, down 13.6% from a year earlier, the trade ministry's data showed, compared with drops of 7.5% in February and the 17.5% tipped in a Reuters poll.
It was the longest losing streak in exports in annual terms since August 2020.
For the January-March period, exports fell 12.6% from a year earlier, steeper than 10.0% in the preceding three months and the worst since the second quarter of 2020, boding ill for the heavily trade-dependent economy.
South Korea is the first major exporting economy to release trade data each month, with a diversified portfolio from chips to cars and ships, providing an early glimpse into the state of global demand.
By destination, exports to China dropped 33.4% in March, extending losses to a 10th straight month and marking the worst since January 2009. Shipments to the United States rose 1.6%, while those to the European Union fell 1.2%.
Semiconductor exports slumped 34.5%, in the eighth month of falls, but with the pace easing from a month before. Car exports jumped 64.2% to a record amount, but petrochemical products fell 25.1%.
Imports in March fell 6.4% to $59.75 billion, versusa 3.5% rise in the previous month and a 6.6% fall expected by economists. It was the fastest drop since August 2020.
As a result, the country clocked a trade deficit of $4.62 billion in March. It was the 13th consecutive monthly deficit, but the smallest since September 2022.
Reporting by Jihoon Lee; Editing by Choonsik Yoo, Muralikumar Anantharaman and Raju Gopalakrishnan
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