By Joori Roh

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s exports grew at their slowest pace in 14 months in April, with the trade deficit in goods deepening as a continued rise in energy and raw materials prices pushed up the country’s imports.

Exports in April grew 12.6% from a year earlier to $57.69 billion, trade ministry data showed on Sunday, logging the slowest pace since February 2021 and missing a forecast for 14.5% growth in a Reuters’ poll.

The rate was also slower than an 18.2% rise in March.

A breakdown by items showed exports of semiconductors, the country’s top foreign exchange earner, jumped 15.8%, while petrochemical products rose 6.8%. Outbound shipments of oil and steel products jumped 68.8% and 21.1%, respectively.

By destination, exports to China, South Korea’s biggest trading partner, decreased 3.4%, while those to the United States and the European Union increased 26.4% and 7.4%, respectively.

Imports, meanwhile, jumped 18.6% to $60.35 billion, with a combined $14.81 billion worth of imports of crude oil, gas and coal taking the lead. That brought the trade balance to a $2.66 billion deficit, after logging a $115 million deficit in March.

(Reporting by Joori Roh; Editing by Chris Reese)