South Korea''s trade surplus shrank sharply from a year earlier in October as imports growth outpaced exports gains, the government said Tuesday. The country''s trade surplus reached US$4.29 billion last month, down from $6.34 billion a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy. Last month''s figure, however, was larger than the $1.55 billion surplus tallied in September, South Korea''s News Agency (Yonhap) reported. The ministry said exports grew 9.3% from a year earlier to $47.4 billion while imports gained 16.4% to $43.1 billion. Exports of petroleum products, autos, steel and petrochemicals grew by double digits, while shipments of liquid crystal devices, semiconductors, ships and mobile communications equipment contracted compared to the year before. Shipments to the Commonwealth of Independent States in Central Asia and Association of Southeast Asian Nations all posted solid gains, although exports to developed economies decreased. Imports, meanwhile, were fueled by surges in crude oil, natural gas and coal prices, with domestic demand for capital and consumer goods declining. Inbound shipments of crude oil jumped 52.7% on-year. For the 10 months of this year, South Korean exports grew 21.4% to $462.63 billion, with imports gaining 25.9% to $436.15 billion for a trade surplus of a little over $26.48 billion. The ministry, in charge of trade promotion, said that at the present pace, South Korea''s two-way trade will surpass the $1 trillion mark for the first time ever next month.