SEOUL, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- South Korea logged trade deficit for the fourth consecutive month in July owing to faster increase in import than export, government data showed on Monday.
Trade deficit stood at 4.67 billion U.S. dollars in July, after recording 2.48 billion dollars in April, 1.61 billion dollars in May and 2.57 billion dollars in June respectively, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
It marked the first time in 14 years since 2008 that the country's trade balance stayed in red for four straight months.
Export, which accounts for around half of the export-driven economy, gained 9.4 percent from a year earlier to 60.7 billion dollars in July, marking the highest July shipment.
Import surged 21.8 percent to 65.37 billion dollars last month, posting the highest-ever in the country's history on the back of higher energy costs.
Import grew faster than export for 14 months in a row since June last year, topping 60 billion dollars for five straight months since March.
Higher import costs came from higher raw materials prices, driven by geopolitical risks in Europe and global supply chain disruptions.
To curb surging inflation, central banks in major economies hiked interest rates, fueling worries about global economic downturn.
Import of the country's three key energy sources, including crude oil, coal and natural gas, amounted to 18.5 billion dollars in July, up from 9.71 billion dollars a year earlier.
Dubai crude, South Korea's benchmark, averaged 103.14 dollars per barrel in July, up from 72.93 dollars a year ago.
Semiconductor import advanced 25.0 percent last month, and those for wheat and corn logged a double-digit gain.
The country's export kept growing for 21 months, but it continued to increase in single digits for the second straight month amid rising concerns about global economic slump.
Semiconductor export added 2.1 percent over the year to 11.21 billion dollars in July, marking the lowest expansion since June 2020.
Oil products shipment spiked 86.5 percent to 6.72 billion dollars due to higher product price, and automotive export jumped 25.3 percent to 5.14 billion dollars on the improved supply of chips used to make cars.
Export for secondary batteries was up 11.8 percent to 880 million dollars on eco-friendly policies in major economies.
Shipment of computers, home appliances and bio-health products dwindled in double figures last month, and those for petrochemicals and display panels reduced in single digits.
Export to China, South Korea's biggest trading partner, shrank 2.5 percent from a year earlier to 13.24 billion dollars in July on lower shipment of steel and petrochemical products.
South Korea's deficit in trade with China came to 570 million dollars in July, staying in red for three straight months.
Export to the United States, the European Union and Southeast Asian nations grew in double figures, but those to Japan and Latin American countries declined 1.4 percent and 7.9 percent respectively. ■