SEOUL, Feb. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's outbound shipments of information technology (IT) products increased from a year earlier last month on growing global demand for its smartphones and display panels, the government said Thursday.
The country's exports of IT products reached US$13.1 billion in January, up 16.4 percent from the same period last year, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.
The 16.4 percent rise marks the largest on-year growth in 27 months. January also marks the fifth consecutive month the country's IT exports rose from a year earlier. The country's trade surplus in the IT sector also significantly widened from a year earlier to $6.11 billion as its imports grew at a much slower pace of 10.2 percent on-year to $6.99 billion.
"IT exports recorded a positive growth for the fifth consecutive month on growing shipments of the country's key IT products, such as mobile phones, semiconductors and display panels, helped by a recovery in the global IT market," the ministry said in a press release.
Shipments of mobile phones jumped 32.7 percent on-year to $1.91 billion as exports of mobile phone parts spiked 78.6 percent from a year earlier to $890 million. Shipments of smartphones grew 8.8 percent on-year to $940 million.
Outbound shipments of semiconductors gained 7.2 percent on-year to $4.04 billion, exceeding the $4 billion mark for the sixth consecutive month, the ministry said.
By country, China continued to be the world's largest importer of South Korean IT products, purchasing $6.54 billion worth of IT products from South Korea in January, up 16.6 percent from the same month last year.
Shipments to the United States and EU member countries rose 3 percent and 31.9 percent on-year, respectively, to $1.25 billion and $1.13 billion, but those to Japan plunged 20.7 percent to $590 million.