SEOUL, May 4 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s monthly current account surplus rose to a four-month high in March, extending its surplus streak to a 37th straight month, data showed Monday.
The current account surplus hit US$10.39 billion in March, nearly doubling from a $6.44 billion surplus in the previous month, according to the provisional data released by the Bank of Korea. The current account is the broadest measure of cross-border trade.
The latest reading marks the highest level since a record $11.32 billion current account surplus in November. With the monthly result, Asia’s fourth-biggest economy is poised to break the current record surplus streak of 38 months, which began in June 1986.
The balance of goods reached $11.21 billion in March, soaring from a $7.32 billion surplus in the previous month as imports declined more sharply than exports.
Exports tumbled 8.4 percent on-year to $49.57 billion, slowing from a 15.4 percent drop in the previous month, but still adding to concerns over sluggish trade, a major headache for the heavily trade-reliant economy. Throughout the first quarter, exports slumped 11.2 percent from a year earlier.
Imports sank 16.8 percent to $38.36 billion, also slowing from a 21.9 percent on-year drop in February.
The service account, which includes outlays by South Koreans on overseas trips, narrowed its deficit to $967.2 million from $2.06 billion.
The primary income account, which tracks the wages of foreign workers and dividend payments overseas, fell to $528.8 million, sharply shrinking from February’s $1.4 billion on an increase in dividend payments.
The country’s current account surplus in the first three months of the year totaled $23.42 billion, gaining from last year’s $15.19 billion. The quarterly figure is roughly 24 percent of the central bank’s $96 billion current account surplus target for this year.