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(LEAD) S. Korea posts current account surplus in May

Economy 09:32 July 04, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, additional information, minor changes in paras 4-12; ADDS photos)

SEOUL, July 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's current account balanced turned to black in May, one month after the country posted its first deficit in seven years amid sluggish exports, central bank data showed Thursday.

The country's current account surplus came to US$4.95 billion in the month, marking a turnaround from a $660 million deficit the month before, according to preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).

The turnaround was largely attributed to a $1.16 billion surplus in the primary income account, which in April posted a $4.33 billion deficit due to a seasonal surge in dividend payments.

Moon So-sang, head of the monetary and financial statistics division at the Bank of Korea (BOK), holds a press briefing at the South Korean central bank in Seoul on July 4, 2019. (Yonhap)

In May, the country's products account surplus narrowed to $5.39 billion from a $5.67 billion surplus the month earlier.

"The country's current account surplus has been greatly reduced from a year earlier as its exports greatly dropped due to the recent slowdown in the global economy and the U.S.-China trade dispute," Moon So-sang, director of BOK's monetary & financial statistics division, told a press briefing.

Seoul's exports have been on a steady decline since December due to sluggish global demand and a slump in the semiconductor market.

Outbound shipments again dropped 10.8 percent on-year to $48 billion in May, while imports inched down 1 percent to $42.64 billion.

In May 2018, the country's products account surplus stood at $10.8 billion, with its current account surplus reaching $8.43 billion.

(LEAD) S. Korea posts current account surplus in May - 2

The country's chronic deficit in the service account narrowed to $900 million in May from $2.1 billion a year earlier.

"The service account deficit narrowed as the deficit in the tourism account dropped from $1.36 billion in May 2018 to $940 million on a large increase of visitors from China and Japan," Moon told the press briefing.

The number of tourists from China and Japan jumped 35.2 percent and 26 percent on-year, respectively, to some 500,000 and 286,000 in May, the BOK said in a press release.

The country's construction account surplus widened to $1.03 billion in May, up from a $790 million surplus a year earlier and $630 million the month before.


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