SEOUL - South Korea's government said Sunday its exports will weaken and trade surplus dwindle this year as global trade shrinks amid prolonged economic woes in Europe and the US.

The Ministry of Knowledge Economy said the country recorded an annual trade surplus of $33.3 billion in 2011 as total exports rose nearly 20 percent to reach $557.8 billion. But the surplus will shrink to $25 billion for this year as exports slow on weaker demand from major markets while the value of imports will increase on rising oil prices, it said.  "The momentum for global growth is weakening due to the aftermath of global fiscal crisis, and it is hard to predict the direction of global oil price and foreign exchange rate," the ministry said in a statement.

"Trade growth will slow down on increased uncertainty in global economy," it said. Exports of Asia's fourth-largest economy will grow at a slower pace of 6.7 percent this year to reach $595 billion while imports will rise 8.7 percent to $570 billion, it said. 

Sluggish global demand will particularly deal a blow to the country's major shipbuilders, steelmakers, refineries and mobile gadget makers, it said.  South Korea's export-dependent economy is feeling the squeeze from the reverberations of the eurozone debt crisis and shaky US economy.

The government last month slashed its economic growth forecast for 2012 to 3.7 percent from a previous projection of 4.5 percent, saying slowing global demand was hurting exports and even domestic consumption.