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(LEAD) Korea's current account surplus widens to US$5.97 bln in Nov.

Economy 08:02 January 07, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, additional information in paras 8-11; ADDS photo)
By Byun Duk-kun

SEOUL, Jan. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's current account surplus grew from a year earlier in November as its service account deficit narrowed, while its primary income account surplus expanded, central bank data showed Tuesday.

The country's current account surplus came to US$5.97 billion in the month, up $840 million from the same month last year, according to preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).

The figure, however, marks a drop from a $7.83 billion surplus posted the month before.

The photo, taken Dec. 1, 2019, shows stacks of export-import containers at South Korea's largest port in Busan, located some 450 kilometers south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

The on-year increase came despite a slight drop in its goods account surplus, which dwindled to $7.39 billion in November from $7.5 billion a year earlier.

South Korea's exports have dropped for 13 consecutive months since December 2018.

In November, exports plunged 10.3 percent on-year to $46.5 billion, while imports dropped 11.7 percent to $39.11 billion.

Its service account, on the other hand, saw its chronic deficit narrow to $1.89 billion from $2.19 billion over the cited period.

The drop in the service account deficit was largely attributed to a decline in the tourism account deficit, helped by a steady increase in the number of visitors from China and Southeast Asian countries.

The country's income in the tourism account grew to $1.63 billion in November from $1.41 billion the same month last year, while its tourism expenditures slipped to $2.59 billion from $2.76 billion over the cited period.

The drop in overseas spending by South Korean tourists apparently came amid a public boycott of visits to Japan, sparked last year by Tokyo's export restrictions on industrial materials used to produce semiconductors and panels, both key export items of South Korea.

In November alone, the number of South Korean visitors to Japan tumbled 65.1 percent from a year earlier to some 210,000, while the overall number of South Koreans going abroad only slipped 9 percent on-year, the BOK noted.

The country's primary income account surplus came to $970 million, up from a $340 million surplus the year before.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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