SEOUL, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's exports rose last month to a new high, topping 50 billion U.S. dollars for the first time in the country's history, due to solid demand for tech and auto products, a government report showed Friday.
Exports, which account for around half of the economy, increased 7.3 percent from a year earlier to 50.51 billion dollars in October, breaching the prior record high of 48.95 billion dollars tallied in July 2011, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE).
The record-breaking exports were led by robust demand for smartphones, chips and automobiles manufactured by South Korean companies.
Semiconductor exports rose to 5.35 billion dollars in October from 3.97 billion dollars in July 2011. Shipments of telecommunication devices, including smartphones, expanded from 2. 36 billion dollars to 3.31 billion dollars over the same period.
Shipments of ships, steel and oil products decreased during the cited period due to slower growth of emerging economies.
Auto exports increased due to stronger demand from the United States and Europe. The world's largest economy grew 2.5 percent in the second quarter after rising 1.1 percent in the prior quarter, with the European economic growth turning around from minus 0.2 percent in the first quarter to 0.3 percent in the second quarter.
Overall exports to the United States grew 23.2 percent on year in October, keeping their growth trend after rising 8.3 percent in the third quarter and 9.1 percent in the second quarter, respectively.
Exports to China increased 5.5 percent in October from a year earlier after gaining 9.4 percent in the third quarter and 12.5 percent in the second quarter each.
Shipments to Japan, however, continued to fall due to the Japanese yen's depreciation against the dollar that resulted in fierce price competition for South Korean exporters in overseas markets. Exports to Japan declined 8.8 percent in October from a year earlier after declining 1.5 percent in September and 13.3 percent in August each.
Helped by the record-breaking exports, trade surplus rose in October to 4.9 billion dollars after hitting 3.68 billion dollars in the prior month. The figure stayed in black for 21 straight months.
During the January-October period, the trade surplus amounted to 35.91 billion dollars.
Imports increased 5.1 percent from a year earlier to 45.61 billion dollars in October after falling 3.6 percent in the previous month. It indicated that the domestic economy may be back into the recovery track.
Inbound shipments of capital and consumer goods expanded 7.5 percent and 13.4 percent each last month, but raw material imports declined 2.8 percent amid lower commodity prices.