[SEOUL] South Korean exports in July fell at the fastest pace in three months, preliminary government data showed on Monday, far worse than expectations and putting a damper on the country's efforts to escape low growth.
Exports fell 10.2 per cent on-year to US$41.05 billion in July while imports slumped 14.0 per cent to US$33.25 billion, trade ministry data showed. Exports notched their biggest fall since April this year.
The trade surplus fell to US$7.8 billion in July from a revised US$11.5 billion surplus in June.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected a 4.6 per cent drop in exports and a 9.5 per cent fall in imports.
"July exports fell sharply from June due to temporary factors like less working days and fewer ship exports," said the trade ministry in a statement.
July this year had 1.5 fewer working days than July 2015.
South Korea is the first major exporting economy to report monthly trade data and is home to global suppliers such as Samsung Electronics, Hyundai Motor and SK Hynix Inc.
The average value of exports per working day was US$1.75 billion in July, less than a revised US$1.94 billion in June, Reuters calculations showed.
The government will release more details later on July trade performance, including shipments by destination.
South Korea's economy grew at an unexpectedly robust 3.2 per cent annual rate in the second quarter, driven by firmer domestic consumption and capital investment, but analysts said the lift would probably be temporary.