S Korea posts record-high current account surplus in 2009

13:27, January 27, 2010      

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South Korea posted a record-high current account surplus in 2009 as imports fell more sharply than exports, the central bank said Wednesday.

According to a preliminary report by the Bank of Korea (BOK), the current account in 2009 recorded a surplus of 42.67 billion U. S. dollars, a sharp bounce back from the previous year's 5.78- billion-U.S. dollar deficit.

For the whole year, the goods account surplus amounted to 56.13 billion U.S. dollars, up from 5.67 billion U.S. dollars a year earlier, as the size of decrease increased in imports than in exports.

While exports of goods fell 13.7 percent year-on-year to 373.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2009 and imports declined 25.7 percent to 317.5 billion U.S. dollars.

The services account logged a deficit of 17.2 billion U.S. dollars, similar to the previous year's 16.67 billion U.S. dollars, mainly due to a drop in transportation account surplus and a hike in other services account deficit.

The income account surplus also fell slightly to 4.55 billion U. S. dollars from the previous month's 5.9 billion U.S. dollars, pulled down by worsening interest receipts.

The current transfers account registered a deficit of 0.81 billion U.S. dollars, inching up from the previous year's 0.67 billion U.S. U.S. dollars.

The capital and financial account also shifted in 2009 from the previous year's net outflow of 50.08 billion U.S. dollars to a net inflow of 26.45 billion U.S. dollars, the bank said.

Meanwhile, the December current account, however, fell to the lowest level in 11 months with a surplus of 1.52 billion U.S. U.S. dollars, maintaining its downward move for the second straight month, according to the bank.

Although the country has posted a current account surplus for 11 consecutive months, the size of the surplus has been trending downward after hitting a record 4.76 billion U.S. U.S. dollars in October.

According to BOK officials, the downward move is likely to continue for the time being, with some chances that the January current account may fall to negative territory.

"As imports are expected to increase due to the economic recovery and rising oil prices, the country's current account surplus is forecast to sharply fall this year," Lee Young-bog, head of the BOK's balance of payments statistics team, was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency.

For 2010, the BOK forecast the country will likely post a smaller surplus of around 17 billion U.S. dollars as imports are expected to shoot up along with the economic recovery.

Source: Xinhua
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