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(LEAD) S. Korea posts US$2.29 bln current account surplus in May

Economy 08:15 July 07, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, additional information from 5th para)
By Byun Duk-kun

SEOUL, July 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea posted a current account surplus in May, central bank data showed Tuesday, although its surplus more than halved from a year earlier on a sharp decline in exports caused by the new coronavirus pandemic.

The country's current account surplus came to US$2.29 billion in the month, according to preliminary data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).

The reading marks a turnaround from a $3.33 billion deficit posted the previous month, the largest deficit since January 2011.

However, it also marks a sharp drop from a $5.18 billion surplus posted in May 2019.

This file photo, taken June 1, 2020, shows piers for exports in Busan. According to the Bank of Korea on July 7, South Korea posted a current account surplus of US$2.29 billion in May, marking a turnaround from a $3.33 billion deficit a month earlier. (Yonhap)

The goods account surplus narrowed to $2.5 billion in May from a $5.5 billion surplus a year before amid a steady decline in exports, apparently caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

South Korea's exports, on a customs-clearance basis, plunged 23.6 percent on-year to $34.9 billion in May, compared with $45.7 billion for the same month last year, according to the BOK.

Its imports dropped 21 percent to $34.46 billion from $43.62 billion over the cited period.

Its service account balance, on the other hand, slightly improved, posting a $480 million deficit, narrowing from a deficit of $950 million in May 2019.

The narrowed service account deficit was largely attributed to improvements in the travel and transport accounts.

The country's travel account deficit sharply narrowed to $160 million from a $750 million deficit a year earlier, and also from a $350 million deficit in April.

The BOK said the number of South Koreans going overseas plunged 98.4 percent on-year to some 38,000 in May.

The number of visitors to the country dropped 97.9 percent to some 31,000 in the month.

The country's primary income account surplus narrowed to $540 million in May from $1.29 billion in May 2019, "in line with a decrease in the income from dividends," the BOK said.

bdk@yna.co.kr
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