South Korea’s current account surplus nearly halved in October against the previous month due to a yawning stretch in travel deficit as Korean outbound travelers jumped during the unusually long Chuseok holiday.
According to preliminary balance of payments data released by the Bank of Korea on Tuesday, the nation’s current account surplus extended the surplus streak to the 68th consecutive months in October but plunged 53.5 percent to $5.72 billion in October from the previous month. Compared to a year earlier, it fell 25.6 percent, and the figure is the lowest since April with $4.0 billion.
The sharp fall in current balance is largely due to service account deficit that widened to a fresh record high of $3.53 billion in October from $2.88 billion a month ago, according to data. In particular, the travel balance deficit expanded to $1.67 billion, the second highest, from $1.31 billion in the previous period.
The travel balance deficit widened because the number of Koreans who went on an overseas trip soared during the 10-day-long Chuseok holiday in October, outnumbering inbound foreign travelers in the absence of Chinese visitors following Beijing’s ban on group tours to Korea in its retaliation against Seoul’s deployment of a U.S missile shield system.
In October, goods account surplus also contracted to $8.6 billion from $14.98 a month ago as exports grew at a slower pace from reduced working days due to the extended holiday break. Exports that jumped 22.3 percent on year in September grew by a mere 3.1 percent to $44.43 billion in October. Imports rose 5.6 percent on year to $358.3 billion.
By Kim In-oh and Cho Jeehyun
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]