South Korea maintained a trend of trade surplus for 36 months in a row as a rapid fall in imports offset declining exports, customs data showed on Friday.
The revised figure for exports, which account for about half of the economy, slid 0.7 percent from a year earlier to 45.2 billion U.S. dollars in January, according to the Korea Customs Service.
Imports declined at a faster pace than exports, falling 11 percent to 39.8 billion dollars last month. The faster fall in imports sent the January trade surplus to 5.4 billion dollars, keeping a surplus trend for 36 straight months.
Demand for locally-made chips and ships surged 13.1 percent and 55.6 percent each in January from a year ago, but those for cars and auto parts slid 4.9 percent and 3.5 percent respectively.
Exports of oil products tumbled 40.8 percent last month due to cheaper crude oil. Shipments of home appliances and telecommunication devices plunged 16.2 percent and 19.5 percent each.
By region, exports to China and the United States, South Korea' s top two trading partners, gained 5.3 percent and 14.8 percent each last month, but those to the European Union and Japan dropped 23 percent and 19.5 percent respectively.
Imports of crude oil tumbled 41.3 percent on lower oil prices, but those for consumer and capital goods climbed 11.2 percent and 14.3 percent each last month.