CORRECTED-S.Korea's Dec 1-20 exports fall 2.0% y/y on weak chip sales; China shipments improve

(Corrects Nov. 1-20 percentage change in paragraph 2 to 9.6%, not 9.8%)

SEOUL, Dec 23 (Reuters) - South Korea’s exports in the first 20 days of December slid at 2.0% due to a slump in chip sales, customs data showed on Monday, but the decline was slower than a month earlier following improved demand from China.

Exports during the Dec. 1-20 period contracted less than the 9.6% drop during the Nov. 1-20 period, while imports fell 0.5%, the data showed. The country’s trade surplus shrank to $0.33 billion during the period from $0.55 billion in the same period a month earlier.

Average exports per working day during the Dec. 1-20 period slid 5.1%, better than a 9.6% fall in Nov. 1-20.

Overseas sales of semiconductors, the country’s major export, fell 16.7% in the Dec. 1-20 period versus a year ago, although shipments to China, South Korea’s biggest trading partner, rose 5.3%. (Reporting by Joori Roh; editing by Richard Pullin)