South Korea posts all-time high current account surplus

South Korean current-account surplus in May stood at US$8.64 billion (HK$67.0 billion) - highest monthly amount on record

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 June, 2013, 12:53pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 June, 2013, 12:53pm


South Korea’s monthly current-account surplus hit an all-time high in May, with exports growing and imports falling, the Bank of Korea said Thursday.

The new data corroborated some market views that the country’s fundamentals remain relatively sound despite a global slowdown.

The current-account surplus in May, the broadest measure of South Korea’s trade with the rest of the world, stood at US$8.64 billion (HK$67.0 billion), the highest monthly amount on record, and up from US$3.57 billion (HK$27.7 billion) a year earlier.

The previous record was US$6.91 billion (HK$53.6 billion) in November last year.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the current-account surplus rose to US$7.82 billion from US$4.76 billion in the previous month.

It was the 16th consecutive month that South Korea has posted a current-account surplus since it last posted a deficit in January last year.

The central Bank of Korea said the May surplus was attributed to solid exports and falling oil prices.

“Falling oil prices slowed demand for imports, improving the current account surplus,” Kim Young-Bae, the director general of the bank’s economic statistics division, said at a press conference.

Kim said the surplus for June would be smaller than that of May, although the country was likely to continue on a surplus trend.

The record surplus also came as South Korean won turned weaker against the greenback, aiding the country’s exports, on concerns over the reduction of the US monetary stimulus easing.

Some analysts, however, said the fourth largest economy in Asia faced downside risks such as a slowing Chinese economy and a weakening yen.

The goods account had a US$7.27 billion surplus in May, up sharply from a US$3.54 billion surplus in April.

It was attributed to brisk exports of semiconductors, telecommunications equipment and petrochemical products.

Exports were up 3.2 per cent on-year to US$49.59 billion as imports fell 4.6 per cent from a year earlier to US$42.32 billion.

The service account, including outlays by South Koreans on overseas trips, posted US$1.13 billion surplus last month, down from a US$1.45 billion surplus in the previous month.