South Korea’s current account surplus in May surged to an eight-month high, hinging dangerously on exports of semiconductors amid underperformance in other mainstay products and services.
According to preliminary balance of payments data released by the Bank of Korea on Thursday, the nation’s current account balance rose to $8.68 billion in May from $1.71 billion in the previous month, extending its longest-ever surplus streak to the 75th consecutive month. The surplus in the current account is the highest since September last year when it marked $12.29 billion.
In the previous month, black figures slipped to a six-year low due to record dividend payouts.
The gain in current account balance largely owed to goods account surplus, which expanded to $11.39 billion in May from $10.36 billion a month ago and from $8.6 billion a year ago. The goods account surplus was the highest since November with $11.46 billion.
Exports jumped 14.5 percent on year to $53.78 billion primarily led by semiconductors. Imports grew 10.5 percent to $42.39 billion due to the hike in crude oil prices.
Service account deficit in May widened to $2.09 billion from $1.98 billion a month ago and from $1.64 billion a year ago due to a decline in travel account. The number of Chinese tourists visiting Korea increased from the previous years, but a greater number of Koreans went overseas.
The deficit in travel account marked $1.34 billion, the largest since February with $1.41 billion. In May, the number of Korean outbound travelers soared 16.4 percent on year to 2.33 million, nearly doubling 1.23 million foreign visitors to Korea, which was up 26.6 percent on year.
By Kim In-oh and Cho Jeehyun
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]