South Korea exports hit record high in 2014

South Korea exports hit record high in 2014
A couple takes a "selfie" as fireworks go off during a ceremony to celebrate the new year at Bongeun Buddhist temple in Seoul.

SEOUL - South Korea enjoyed record exports last year, data showed Thursday, despite slow economic growth in key market China and a sluggish recovery in Europe.

For the whole of 2014, overseas shipments grew 2.4 per cent to US$573.1 billion and imports rose 2.0 per cent to US$525.70 billion, the trade ministry said.

As a result, South Korea's trade surplus widened to a record high of US$47.41 billion, it said. The trade balance has been in the black since February 2012.

In December alone, exports rose 3.7 per cent year on year to US$49.74 billion, while imports fell 0.9 per cent to US$43.96 billion. Trade surplus widened to US$5.78 billion in December from the previous month's US$5.51 billion.

The trade ministry attributed the 2014 increase in exports partly to South Korea's free-trade agreements, including with the United States.

Last year exports to the United States increased 13.4 per cent, while those to China fell 0.9 per cent, it said.

The ministry predicted South Korea's overall exports are expected to rise 3.7 per cent to US$594 billion this year.

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