Falling exports to EU hit S. Korea trade surplus

The trade surplus was $2.33 billion, compared with $2.48 billion in March 2011.

Exports fell to $47.36 billion, down 1.4 percent year-on-year, while imports also dipped 1.2 percent to $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.

However crisp overseas sales of cars, which jumped 35 percent, helped offset the drop in overall exports, said the ministry.

But the surplus, an increase from $1.52 billion posted in February, was better than expected.

The median forecast of nine economists polled by Dow Jones Newswires was for a trade surplus of $1.8 billion.

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