Korea’s Mar current surplus -30% on Chinese tourist fall, higher oil cost

2017.05.04 15:26:09 | 2017.05.04 15:53:34

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South Korea’s March current account surplus narrowed 29.4 percent from the previous month as deficit in services segment surged from sharp reduction in Chinese tourists and increased spending in overseas, data showed.

According to a preliminary balance of payments data released by the Bank of Korea Thursday, the nation’s current account surplus dwindled to $5.93 billion in March from $8.4 billion in February, although the country maintained record-long surplus streak for 61 months.

The current account surplus fell on month in March largely due to the sharp fall in the nation’s service account. The deficit in service account expanded to $3.27 billion in March, more than tripling $920 million of a year-ago period. As result, the deficit in the service account in the first three months of this year reached a historic high of $8.86 billion.

Deficit in travel account was the primary reason behind the red figures in the services account. The deficit in travel account in March widened to $1.35 billion from $1.17 billion on month due to a sharp decrease in the number of Chinese tourists to Korea following the installation of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in Korea that has increased Chinese hostility toward Korea, coupled with the jump in Koreans’ demand for overseas travel during the last-minute winter holiday season.

Transport account deficit also widened to $620 million in March from $570 million in the previous month as local shipping industry remained in the doldrums after the bankruptcy of the country’s once largest container carrier Hanjin Shipping.

Goods account surplus in March slipped to $9.8 billion from $10.55 billion in February because of higher cost of oil imports. Imports jumped 27.5 percent to $40.58 billion the same period of last year, while exports grew 12.8 percent on year to $50.38 billion.

By Boo Jang-won

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