SEOUL, Feb. 11 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s exports jumped 25.2 percent on-year in the first 10 days of March despite the new coronavirus pandemic on strong shipments of chips, customs data showed Thursday.

The country’s outbound shipments stood at US$16.3 billion in the March 1-10 period, compared with $13 billion a year earlier, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service.

Imports climbed 31.4 percent over the period to reach $17.4 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $1.1 billion.

By segment, exports of chips advanced 25.2 percent, leading the overall export gains.

Shipments of automobiles also continued to gather ground, rising 22.8 percent over the period.

Exports of petroleum added 28.1 percent, while those of mobile devices jumped 8 percent as well.

By destination, exports to China, the top trading partner, soared 33.9 percent. Outbound shipments to the United States gained 21.9 percent. The two countries represent roughly 40 percent of the combined exports.

Shipments to the European Union moved up 49 percent, and those to Vietnam gained 7.5 percent as well. Exports to the Middle East, on the other hand, slipped 13.6 percent.

South Korea’s exports rose 9.5 percent in February from a year earlier to extend their gains for the fourth consecutive month.

The accumulated exports this year through Wednesday came to $109 billion, jumping 12.5 percent on-year as well.

In 2020, South Korea’s outbound shipments came to $512.8 billion, down 5.4 percent from 2019. Last month, the central bank estimated this year’s exports growth at 7.1 percent.