[Photo by Yonhap]
South Korean authorities are scrambling to slow the steep rise in the U.S. dollar against the Korean won as the current-account balance is looking at a deficit after incurring the first red since 2010 in monthly goods account in July due to rising toll from costly imports amid strong dollar and fuel prices.
The Ministry of Finance and Economy on Wednesday held foreign exchange operation council with 10 commercial lenders to discuss joint actions against steep fall in the Korean won.
The Korean currency has lost nearly 50 won in a week, zooming past 1,360 won and 1,370 won thresholds last seen in April 2009 amidst Wall Street-triggered financial meltdown. It hit below 1,387.7 won Wednesday afternoon.
Finance minister Choo Kyung-ho in a TV news conference on Wednesday vowed to take necessary actions against “market bias towards a certain direction” as “the steep rise in the dollar versus the won cannot be desirable for the economy and financial market.”
[Photo by Yonhap]
The current account balance for July showed a surplus of $1.09 billion, shrinking from $7.71 billion a year ago due to the first deficit in goods account since April 2012.
The goods account reversed to a deficit of $1.18 billion in July from $5.55 billion surplus a year ago.
Export rose 6.9 percent on year to $59.05 billion, while imports jumped by 21.2 percent to $60.23 billion. The value of imports surged by a larger margin of 35.5 percent on stronger U.S. dollar.
Import cost of coal climbed up 110.0 percent, crude oil 99.3 percent, and natural gas 58.9 percent. Other import costs also jumped - semiconductor by 23.8 percent, grain by 28.2 percent, and home appliances by 21.3 percent.
Service account drew a surplus of $340 million, reversing from $280 million deficit recorded a year ago.
Surplus from transportation service expanded to $1.84 billion from $1.48 billion, owing largely due rise in the China Containerized Freight Index. The global shipping market barometer rose 16.5 percent in July versus a year ago.
Primary income account came to a surplus of $2.27 billion, down $580 million from a year ago. Net assets in the financial account rose by $180 million. Korean’s direct overseas investment increased by $5.67 billion and foreign investment in Korea by $2.26 billion.
Kim Young-hwan, senior manager at Bank of Korea’s economic statistics team, predicted worsening in the good deficit, given the record near $10 billion trade deficit last month.
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]