South Korea's trade surplus reached a new monthly high in March despite a fall in exports as imports shrank at a faster rate, the government said Wednesday.
The country's overall exports came to US$46.99 billion last month, down 4.2 percent from the same month last year, according to the South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
Imports plunged 15.3 percent on-year to $38.6 billion, according to South Korea's (Yonhap) News Agency.
The country posted a trade surplus of $8.39 billion. March marked the 38th consecutive month of surplus.
The drop in exports was largely attributed to a dip in global oil prices, which tumbled 47.6 percent on-year from an average $104.40 per barrel in March 2014 to $54.70 last month, according to the ministry.
The ministry added outbound shipments, in terms of value, also increased 0.2 percent on-year for all other products except petroleum and petrochemical products, such as gasoline and diesel, whose prices are affected by global oil prices.
In March, South Korea's exports of petroleum products plunged 32.5 percent on-year to $3.14 billion despite a 10.1 percent spike in the amount, in terms of volume, shipped overseas, he added.
Shipments of petrochemical products, too, dropped 24.8 percent on-year to $3.33 billion despite an 11.4 percent spike in volume.
On the other hand, exports of ships jumped 13.6 percent on-year to $3.72 billion with shipments of semiconductors, the country's single largest export item, gaining 3.4 percent to $5.41 billion.
The large drop in imports was again attributed to the fall in oil prices.
In March, South Korea's crude oil imports, in terms of volume, gained 6.5 percent to 80.6 million barrels. However, the amount of money the country paid for the oil imports plunged 43.9 percent on-year. Crude alone accounted for 18.1 percent of the country's overall imports in 2014, according to the ministry.
Imports of consumer goods, on the other hand, rose 9.4 percent on-year in March with imports of capital goods also gaining 3.2 percent.
By country, shipments to the United States surged 17 percent on-year.
Shipments to China, the world's single largest importer of South Korean products, slipped 2.4 percent, and exports to Japan plunged 23 percent.