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(LEAD) S. Korea suffers largest current account deficit in nearly decade in April

Economy 08:01 June 04, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, additional information in paras 9-12, 15; ADDS another photo)
By Byun Duk-kun

SEOUL, June 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea suffered the largest current account deficit in almost a decade in April due mainly to a sharp decline in exports caused by the coronavirus pandemic, central bank data showed Thursday.

The country posted a current account deficit of US$3.12 billion in the month, marking a turnaround from a $5.96 billion surplus the month before, according to preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).

The reading marks the largest current account deficit since January 2011.

The file photo shows stacks of import-export cargo containers at South Korea's largest seaport in Busan, located some 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

The deficit also came one year after the country posted its first current account deficit in 84 months in April 2019, due mostly to what the BOK had then called an unusually high seasonal increase in dividend payments.

This year the deficit was largely attributed to the country's first trade deficit in 99 months.

The country's exports plunged 24.3 percent on-year to $36.9 billion in April, while imports dropped 15.9 percent to $37.8 billion, leaving a $950 million trade deficit for Asia's fourth-largest economy.

The BOK said the country's goods account surplus came to $820 million in April, a sharp decline from a $6.66 billion surplus the previous month and a $5.61 billion surplus in April 2019.

The service account deficit slightly expanded to $1.42 billion in April from $1.39 billion a month before.

It also marks a slight expansion from a $1.27 billion deficit in April 2019.

The country's tourism account deficit narrowed to $340 million from $370 million in March and $440 million a year earlier.

Its tourism income sharply declined to $360 million from $2.1 billion a year earlier and $740 million in March as the number of visitors to the country plunged 98.2 percent on-year to some 29,000 amid the new coronavirus pandemic.

The photo, taken April 10, 2020, shows nearly deserted check-in counters at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, amid a sharp decline in the number of tourists to and from South Korea due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Yonhap)

The number of South Koreans going overseas tumbled 98.6 percent to about 31,000. Their overseas spending narrowed to $710 million from $1.11 billion a month before and $2.54 billion in April 2019.

The primary income account posted a $2.29 billion deficit, marking a sharp turnaround from a $930 million surplus the previous month.

It narrowed from a year earlier when the country posted a $4.18 billion deficit in its primary income account.

Its dividend payment account deficit narrowed to $3.01 billion in the month from a $4.87 billion deficit a year before, but it marked a turnaround from a $40 million surplus in March.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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