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(LEAD) Korea's current account surplus narrows sharply in Jan.

All News 08:16 March 05, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, additional information in paras 5-11)
By Byun Duk-kun

SEOUL, March 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's current account surplus narrowed sharply in January on shrinking exports, central bank data showed Thursday.

The country's current account surplus came to US$1.01 billion in the month, compared with a surplus of $4.33 billion the previous month and a $3.3 billion surplus the same month last year, according to the data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).

The drop was largely attributed to a dip in South Korea's goods account surplus, which shrank to $1.93 billion in January from $5.03 billion a month before.

Its exports, on a customs clearance basis, plunged 12.3 percent on-year to $43.44 billion, while imports slipped 5.2 percent to $41.52 billion.

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

South Korea's exports had dropped for 14 consecutive months before posting a 4.5 percent on-year increase last month, due to an extended slump in chip prices and reduced shipments to China, the country's top trading partner.

The sharp drop in exports was in part attributed to reduced working days because of the Lunar New Year holiday that fell on Jan. 25.

The country continued to post a deficit in its service account, but the shortfall decreased sharply to $2.48 billion from $3.53 billion a year earlier on the back of an improvement in the travel account, the BOK said.

In January, the country's travel account deficit came to $1.33 billion, compared with a $1.53 billion deficit the same month last year.

This improvement came on a steady increase in the number of foreign visitors to South Korea, which jumped 15.2 percent on-year to 1.27 million in the month, while the number of South Koreans heading overseas plunged 13.7 percent to about 2.51 million.

The drop in the number of South Korean travelers was largely attributed to a 59.4 percent plunge in the number of South Koreans traveling to Japan in a boycott prompted last year by Japan's export restrictions against South Korea.

South Korea's intellectual property account deficit narrowed to $290 million in January from $490 million a year earlier, with its intellectual property account income growing to $590 million from $469 million over the cited period, according to the BOK.

Its primary income surplus came to $1.69 billion, shrinking from a $2.68 billion surplus the month before.


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