South Korea posts US$6.03 billion surplus last month

AFP, SEOUL

Tue, Dec 31, 2013 - Page 15

South Korea posted a current account surplus of US$6.03 billion last month, the central bank said yesterday, with the accumulated surplus so far this year exceeding the government’s estimate.

The current account figure — the broadest measure of a country’s trade with the rest of the world — follows a record high of US$9.51 billion in October, according to data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).

However, it was the 22nd consecutive month that South Korea — Asia’s fourth-largest economy — has posted a current account surplus since it last posted a deficit in January last year.

The accumulated surplus from January to last month stood at US$64.3 billion, beating the central bank’s estimate of US$63 billion for the whole of this year. The annual surplus is also on course to shatter the previous record of US$43.2 billion posted last year.

Exports — which account for nearly a half of the country’s entire economy — fell 1.9 percent on-year to US$48.8 billion, while imports lost 0.2 percent to US$42.6 billion.

Falling shipments of display panels and steel products offset the increase in shipments of mobile devices, memory chips and ship vessels, the BOK said.

The services account, which includes transport, travel and other services, turned to a deficit of US700 million.

The BOK put this down to growing spending by South Koreans traveling overseas and increased royalty payments.

The latest deficit in the services account was compared to a surplus of US$1.65 billion in October and US$250 million a year ago.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s industrial output for last month was unchanged from October as falling auto production offset the increase in memory chips and petrochemical products, state data showed yesterday. Production in the mining, manufacturing, gas and electricity industries remained flat, after growing at their fastest pace for 11 months in October, Statistics Korea said.

Compared with a year earlier, last month’s output rose 1.3 percent.

South Korea’s economy expanded 1.1 percent in the second and third quarters of this year — the fastest pace since the first quarter of 2011.

The government has predicted that the country’s economy will grow by 2.7 percent this year and 3.9 percent next year.