South Korea extended its trade surplus streak to 51 months in April as a protracted economic slowdown dragged down imports at a faster pace than exports, customs data showed Monday.
The country's trade surplus came to US$8.82 billion last month, slightly down from a four-month high of $9.85 billion in the previous month, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service. The April figure marked the 51st consecutive month of a trade surplus, with a 5.4-percent on-year rise from $8.36 billion a year earlier.
The increase was largely attributed to a cut in imports that outpaced a drop in exports. Exports fell 11.2 percent on-year to $41 billion last month, while imports tumbled 14.9 percent to $32.2 billion.
Due mainly to waning demand from emerging countries and a slowdown in China, the country's exports have fallen every single month since the start of 2015.
In the beginning of 2016, moreover, outbound shipments have been on a sharp decline as the figures hit a 19-percent on-year drop in January and 13.1 percent fall in February. The downward pace slowed slightly to 8.1 percent in March but accelerated again to 11.2 percent in April.
On the imports side, inbound shipments have also seen contractions for 19 months in a row because of low oil prices. South Korea's imports of crude oil plunged 30.4 percent on-year to $3.2 billion despite a 13.2-percent gain in the sheer volume of imports to 88 million barrels, according to the customs agency.