South Korea’s government warned Saturday that export growth will slow in the fourth quarter due to worsening overseas conditions, after reporting a smaller than expected September trade surplus. The Ministry of Knowledge Economy reported a $1.44 billion trade surplus compared to the $2.1 billion tipped in a Dow Jones Newswires poll of seven economists. Exports grew 19.6 percent from September 2010, slower than the poll had predicted, while imports grew by 30.5 percent. “Export growth in the fourth quarter will slow because of deterioration in external conditions and high base effect,” the ministry said in a statement. “The trade surplus is unlikely to widen as export conditions weaken from a global economic slowdown, while imports are expected to continue growing due to high oil prices.” The figure is the latest sign that South Korea’s export-dependent economy is feeling the pinch because of the eurozone debt crisis and the sluggish US economy. But economic officials point out that emerging economies now account for much of the country’s exports. Exports to China were up 20.5 percent year-on-year in September, as measured over the first 20 days, while exports to members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations rose by 43.2 percent. The finance ministry expects 4.5 percent economic growth this year while the International Monetary Fund last month cut its forecast to 4.0 percent.