SEOUL, April 1 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's export kept falling for the sixth consecutive month amid sagging demand for locally-made semiconductors, leading to trade deficits for 13 months in a row, government data showed on Saturday.
Export, which takes up about half of the export-driven economy, declined 13.6 percent from a year earlier to 55.13 billion U.S. dollars in March, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
The outbound shipment continued to slide after October last year on the back of weaker global demand for South Korean products.
The ministry said the country's export kept a downward trend due to the global economic slowdown, but it noted that the shipment topped 55 billion dollars in six months.
Import reduced 6.4 percent to 59.75 billion dollars last month, resulting in a trade deficit of 4.62 billion dollars. The trade balance stayed in red since March last year.
Semiconductor export tumbled 34.5 percent over the year to 8.6 billion dollars in March, keeping a downward trend for the eighth successive month on lower memory chip prices.
Shipment for display panels and computers retreated in double digits, but automotive export jumped 64.2 percent to 6.52 billion dollars due to higher demand for eco-friendly vehicles and the eased supply disruption of chips used to produce cars.
Secondary battery shipment added 1.0 percent on the strong demand for electric vehicles, but global demand for local oil products and petrochemicals slipped 16.6 percent and 25.1 percent respectively.
Auto parts export dipped 5.3 percent to 2.06 billion dollars, and steel products shipment dwindled 10.7 percent to 3.14 billion dollars on lower product prices.
General machinery shipment shed 0.8 percent to 4.81 billion dollars, and mobile device export dropped 42.3 percent to 1.06 billion dollars.
South Korea's export to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations went down 21.0 percent over the year to 9.61 billion dollars in March on the back of weaker demand for chips and oil products.
Shipment to the European Union fell 1.2 percent to 6.14 billion dollars, and export to Japan shrank 12.0 percent to 2.44 billion dollars.
Export to the United States rose 1.6 percent to 9.79 billion dollars, surpassing 9 billion dollars for the second straight month on solid demand for cars and secondary batteries.
Export to the Middle East spiked 21.6 percent to 1.84 billion dollars on higher demand for cars, general machinery and steel products.
Meanwhile, import for crude oil and natural gas diminished 6.1 percent and 25.0 percent each last month amid the lower commodity prices.
Import for chips and steel products reduced 10.6 percent and 12.4 percent, reflecting the weaker domestic demand.