SEOUL, Dec. 11 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s exports rose 26.9 percent on-year in the first 10 days of December on the back of robust shipments of chips and autos amid the new coronavirus outbreak, customs data showed Friday.

The country’s outbound shipments stood at US$16.3 billion in the Dec. 1-10 period, compared with $12.9 billion a year earlier, according to the data from the Korea Customs Service.

Per-day exports gained 11.9 percent on-year during the cited period. Imports increased 7.9 percent on-year to $15.4 billion in the 10-day period, resulting in a trade surplus of $894 million, the data showed.

By sector, outbound shipments of memory chips, a key export item, soared 52.1 percent from a year earlier in the first 10 days of December, while those of automobiles jumped 22.4 percent over the cited period.

Semiconductors account for about 20 percent of exports by South Korea, home to Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s largest memory chipmaker, and its smaller rival SK hynix Inc.

Exports of petrochemical products declined 36.8 percent on-year on low oil prices.

By country, shipments to China — South Korea’s largest trading partner — rose 12.1 percent on-year, and exports to the United States gained 23.1 percent, the data showed.

Exports, which account for half of the South Korean economy, took a beating from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the pace of the slump has eased since June, as major economies slowly began resuming business activities and lifting border lockdowns.

In the Jan. 1-Dec. 10 period, the country’s exports fell 6.2 percent on-year to $477.8 billion, and imports declined 7.5 percent to $438.2 billion.

In November, South Korea’s exports grew 4 percent on-year on the back of strong sales of chips, rebounding for the first time in two months, according to the trade ministry.