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(LEAD) S. Korea's exports grow 2.6 pct in July
SEOUL, Aug. 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's trade surplus increased slightly in July as its overall trade volume grew from a year earlier, the government said Thursday.

   In July, the country's exports amounted to US$45.84 billion, up 2.6 percent from the same month last year, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

   The July figure marks a turnaround from a 0.9 percent on-year drop in the previous month.

   The country's trade surplus came to $2.71 billion with its imports growing 2.7 percent on-year to $43.13 billion. July marked the 18th consecutive month the country posted a trade surplus.

   The ministry attributed the growth in exports to a large increase in shipments to China and the European Union (EU).

   "Especially, exports to EU countries posted a large growth for the second straight month," it said in a press release.

   In July, the country's exports to China jumped 14.5 percent on-year with shipments to the United States and EU countries growing 8.5 percent and 8.2 percent on-year, respectively.

   Shipments to Japan, on the other hand, plunged 14.8 percent on-year, apparently due to the effects of the weakening Japanese currency, the ministry said.

   The yen's depreciation against the U.S. dollar is also apparently eating into the global price competitiveness of South Korean products, it added, noting the country's exports to the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) also dropped 5.4 percent on-year in July.

   The country's exports to ASEAN countries had surged 10 percent on-year in the first six months of the year.

   Imports grew mostly on an increase in oil imports while the average price of crude oil also rose by $1.3 per barrel from a year earlier to $105.8, the ministry said.

   bdk@yna.co.kr
(END)
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