SEOUL, Feb. 23 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s short-term foreign debt rose sharply last year, with its ratio to the total reaching a five year high, the finance ministry said Friday.
The country’s total external debt stood at US$418.8 billion at the end of last year, up $34.7 billion from a year ago, according to the ministry.
The tally for the end of 2017 also marks a $8.3 billion rise from three months ago, it said.
The country’s short-term external debt — with a maturity of one year or less — totaled $115.9 billion as of the end of December, a gain of $11.2 billion from a year ago.
The figure for the end of December accounted for 27.7 percent of the country’s total external debt, an increase from 27.3 percent a year ago, and marks the highest reading since 2012 when the comparable figure was 31.3 percent.
The ratio of short-term foreign debt to foreign reserves stood at 29.8 percent at the end of last year, rising 1.6 percentage points over the cited period.
South Korea’s short-term foreign debt is a source of concern, as a sharp rise can leave the country vulnerable to external shocks.
The ratio had sharply surged during the global financial crisis, hitting 79.3 percent in the third quarter of 2008.