Published : 2013-01-30 09:07
Updated : 2013-01-30 18:26
Korea’s services account has swung into the black for the first time in 14 years, mainly thanks to robust transportation transactions, the Bank of Korea said Wednesday.
This has helped the country to achieve an annual record in the current account surplus, the broadest measure of trade.
Korea’s current account surplus reached a record high of $43.25 billion in 2012, remaining in the black for 15 consecutive years.
The current account surplus increased $17.18 billion to $43.25 billion last year, surpassing an initial forecast of $43 billion by the central bank.
Korea had a current account deficit of $8.18 billion in 1997, but has maintained its surplus momentum since 1998.
The services account surplus of $2.68 billion last year from a deficit of $5.85 in 2011 is mainly attributable to an increase in transportation services, which reached a record $10.55 billion in 2012, up from $7.4 billion.
Also, an increase in construction services under the services account contributed to the overall surplus in the current account in the balance of payments, the central bank noted.
A growing number of inbound tourists to Korea reduced the country’s travel services deficit, decreasing to $5.87 billion last year from $7.41 a year earlier.
However, looking at the month of December alone, the current account surplus hit an eight-month low of $2.25 billion from a high of $6.91 billion in November.
“Korea saw an increase in trade despite reduced working days last year, and did not affect the exchange rate,” said Kim Young-bae, director-general at the central bank.
The country’s exports reached $548.08 billion in 2012, down 1.3 percent from a year earlier.
Display panels and petrochemicals continued to post robust export growth, while steel and automobiles showed weakness. Shipbuilding and machinery maintained their drop in exports, according to BOK data.
By Park Hyong-ki