South Korea’s current account surplus shrank to a six-year low by the end of June due to a jump in import costs from higher global oil prices and weakened domestic currency.
According to preliminary balance of payments data released by the Bank of Korea on Thursday, the nation’s current account surplus in June reached $7.38 billion, down from last month’s $8.68 billion but up from $6.94 billion a year ago. The country extended its longest-ever surplus streak to the 76th straight month.
The goods account surplus in June stood at $10 billion in June, down from $11.4 billion in May but up from $9.42 billion a year earlier. Exports totaled $52.3 billion, posting its 20th straight months of gains thanks to the semiconductor boom and increasing global trade.
The narrowed surplus was largely due to the widening services deficit, which expanded to $2.45 billion in June to its largest in four months. Deficit in the travel account remained high at $1.2 billion, as the number of Koreans traveling abroad continued to outpace the number of foreign arrivals.
For the January-June period, the country recorded a current account surplus of $29.7 billion, down 16.8 percent from a year earlier, marking its lowest surplus since the first half of 2012.
The goods account surplus fell to $55.7 billion from $56.9 billion a year ago.
The services account deficit reached $15.9 billion due to an $8.5 billion deficit in the travel account, the second-largest after the $9.44 billion loss in the second half of 2017. The number of Chinese visitors fell 3.7 percent from a year ago, failing to fully recover from the diplomatic row over an antimissile system that led to a sharp drop in Chinese tourist numbers since March of last year.
By Yoon Won-sup and Kim Hyo-jin
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]