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South Korea's exports of information technology (IT) products grew 4.1 percent
on-year, helped by global demand for system semiconductors and better memory
chip prices, the government said Tuesday.
The country shipped US$11.62 billion worth of IT products last month, up from $11.16 billion a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.
Last month's growth marks the first time since September 2011 that outbound shipments of IT products expanded from the year before. The persistent eurozone crisis and sluggish global economic growth has hurt demand for semiconductors, displays, computers, TVs and various other electronics appliances in recent months.
The country posted a trade surplus of $5.56 billion for the one month period as imports gained 3.3 percent to $6.06 billion. February's surplus represents a gain from $4.98 billion in the black tallied for the month before.
The ministry said last month's IT export growth can be attributed to price gains for dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips, high-end semiconductors, computers and strong demand from overseas markets such as China.
Overseas demand for system chips, which merge software and hardware components into a single unit, soared 47.3 percent to $1.80 billion last month. Gains in international DRAM prices and difficulties experienced by DRAM rivals such as Japan's Elpida Memory Inc. played a role in last month's growth.
The country's overall exports of all types of semiconductors rose 6.3 percent.
The ministry added exports of display panels moved up 2 percent on-year while computer shipments jumped 27.4 percent, bolstered by sales of tablet PCs, printers and monitors.
However, outbound shipments for mobile phones and TVs contracted 32.5 percent and 10.1 percent vis-a-vis February 2011.
South Korea's exports to China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations grew by double digits, but shipments to the United States, Japan and the European Union all shrank.
Shipments to China, the world's largest importer of South Korean IT products, jumped 15.4 percent to $5.68 billion in the cited month.
The ministry said South Korea imported more system semiconductors, computers and digital network equipment last month than the previous year although local demand for mobile phones plunged 42.1 percent.
For 2012, the ministry expects locally manufactured smartphones and system semiconductors to do well, although any gains will be tempered by overall weakness in the global economy.