SEOUL: South Korea’s export logged the biggest first-quarter figure as the Covid-19 pandemic raised demand for tech products, medical supplies and automobiles, customs office data showed Thursday.
Export, which accounts for about half of the export-driven economy, reached US$146.5bil (RM600bil) in the January-March quarter, up 12.5% from the same quarter of last year, according to Korea Customs Service.
It was higher than any first-quarter reading as the pandemic changed the way of people’s lives across the world.
The pandemic encouraged people to work from home and attend online classes, boosting demand for computers, mobile phones and semiconductors.
Demand globally increased for testing kits and medical supplies for the Covid-19, while the prolongation of tougher quarantine measures led to a recovery in the vehicle sale.
Chip export advanced 13.4% in the first quarter on a yearly basis, while those for cars and telecommunication devices, such as smartphone, surged over 30%.
The shipment of medicine and medical supplies soared 70% in the quarter, and precision machinery shipment jumped 20.9%.
Export to China, South Korea’s biggest trading partner, took up 24.8% of the total in the first quarter.
It was followed by the United States with 15.5% and the European Union with 11% each.
South Korea posted trade surplus for 11 straight months in March owing to an export recovery.
Trade surplus amounted to US$4.1bil in March, according to Korea Customs Service. The trade balance stayed in black since May last year.
It was attributed to the continued recovery in export, which advanced 16.5% from a year earlier to US$53.8bil in March. Import expanded 18.8%. — Xinhua