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S. Korea's IT exports shrink 5.2 pct in H1
SEOUL, July 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's exports of information technology (IT) products sank 5.2 percent on-year during the first half of the year, mainly due to weak demand from European consumers gripped by protracted eurozone debt problems, data showed Tuesday.

   The country shipped US$73.27 billion worth of IT products during the January-June period, down from $77.32 billion a year earlier, according to the data released by the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

   During the same period, South Korea also saw its IT imports drop 6.5 percent to $37.97 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $35.29 billion in the sector, the data showed.

   The first-half exports drop stemmed mostly from less global demand sparked by the protracted eurozone debt problems.

   Falling prices of semiconductors and display devices -- major export items for South Korea -- also affected overseas shipments, the ministry said.

   Exports of semiconductors and display panels shrank 1.6 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively, to $24.38 billion and $14.89 billion, the data showed.

   Mobile phone exports, in particular, plunged 34.4 percent on-year to $8.84 billion mainly due to local manufacturers' move to expand overseas production.

   By country, exports to China grew 3.7 percent to $36.45 billion but shipments to the U.S. and the European Union fell 21.7 percent and 17.5 percent to $7.21 billion and $6.28 billion, respectively.

   Despite the slowing exports figures in the first half, the ministry predicted the situation will improve in the second half, saying demand will pick up for memory chips and display devices. It expects the country's annual IT exports will stay in the same range as last year.

   In 2011, South Korea's IT exports reached a record high of $156.97 billion mainly thanks to strong overseas demand for smart phones and semiconductors.