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S. Korea's current account surplus hits 2-year high in Sept. on export recovery

All News 08:00 November 05, 2020

By Kim Soo-yeon

SEOUL, Nov. 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's current account surplus hit a two-year high in September as exports rebounded for the first time in seven months on brisk shipments of chips and autos amid the new coronavirus outbreak, the central bank said Thursday.

The current account surplus reached US$10.21 billion in September, compared with $6.57 billion the previous month, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK). The current account is the broadest measure of cross-border trade.

It marked the largest surplus since September 2018, when the current account surplus reached $11.24 billion. The size of the surplus also topped the $10 billion mark for the first time in two years.

The current account has been in the black for the fifth straight month after the country logged a deficit of $3.33 billion in April, the largest in almost a decade, on faltering exports amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This file photo, taken June 4, 2020, shows stacks of import-export cargo containers at South Korea's largest seaport in Busan, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul. (Yonhap)

The goods balance logged a surplus of $12.02 billion in September, larger than a surplus of $7.01 billion the previous month.

The surplus in the goods balance also hit a two-year high in September mainly because exports posted on-year growth for the first time since February, the BOK said.

Exports, which account for half of the South Korean economy, rose 8 percent on-year to $49.85 billion in September, while imports inched up 1 percent to $37.83 billion.

The country's overseas shipments have been battered by the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic this year. But the pace of the slump has eased since June as major economies slowly began resuming business activities and border lockdowns.

The service account, which includes outlays by South Koreans on overseas trips, logged a deficit of $2.04 billion in September after suffering a shortfall of $800 million in August.

The primary income account, which tracks wages of foreign workers and dividend payments overseas, logged a surplus of $610 million in September, compared with a surplus of $630 million the previous month.

The capital and financial account, which covers cross-border investments, posted a net inflow of $8.91 billion in September, compared with a net inflow of $4.84 billion the previous month.

In August, the BOK lowered its 2020 outlook for the current account surplus, citing sluggish global trade amid the virus outbreak.

The surplus is forecast to reach $54 billion this year, smaller than its previous estimate of $57 billion. The 2021 surplus is likely to reach $55 billion, it added.


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