SEOUL, June 1 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's export fell for the eighth straight month on soft global demand for locally-made products, especially semiconductors, leading the country to post-trade deficits for the 15th successive month, government data showed Thursday.
Export, which accounts for about half of the export-driven economy, sank 15.2 percent from a year earlier to 52.24 billion U.S. dollars in May, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
The outbound shipment kept skidding since October last year. The daily average export reduced by 9.3 percent to 2.43 billion dollars.
Import declined 14.0 percent to 54.34 billion dollars last month, sending the trade deficit to 2.10 billion dollars. The trade balance stayed in red since March last year.
The double-digit fall in export came from weak demand and lower prices for tech and oil products.
Chip export decreased 36.2 percent from a year earlier to 7.37 billion dollars in May, keeping a downward trend for the 10th consecutive month since August last year.
Shipment for petrochemicals and oil products dropped in double digits to 3.83 billion dollars and 4.36 billion dollars, respectively, and steel products export dipped 8.8 percent to 3.32 billion dollars.
Display panel shipment dwindled 7.4 percent to 1.41 billion dollars due to the lower production of LCD panels, and computer export dived 57.5 percent to 700 million dollars.
Automotive export jumped 49.4 percent to 6.20 billion dollars in May, continuing to expand for the 11th consecutive month on strong demand for eco-friendly vehicles and the normalized supply of auto components.
General machinery shipment gained 1.6 percent to 4.47 billion dollars, but export for secondary battery and auto parts slipped in single digits last month.
Shipment for mobile phones and home appliances declined in double figures to 1.14 billion dollars and 670 million dollars each.
By region, export to the United States shed 1.5 percent over the year to 9.48 billion dollars in May, owing to weaker demand for chips and computers.
Shipment to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) plunged 21.2 percent to 8.42 billion dollars, while export to the European Union (EU) lost 3.0 percent to 5.86 billion dollars.
Those to Latin American countries and the Middle East retreated to 1.99 billion dollars and 1.53 billon dollars each.
Meanwhile, the double-digit fall in import was attributed to lower energy import costs.
Import for crude oil, natural gas and coal dipped 16.2 percent, 20.2 percent and 35.1 percent each in May compared to the same month of last year.
Dubai crude, South Korea's benchmark, traded at 74.96 dollars per barrel in May, down from 108.16 dollars a year earlier.
Import for chips, steel products and computers all declined in double digits last month.
The country posted trade deficits for the 15th month, but the deficit amount continued to fall this year after peaking at 12.53 billion dollars in January.