Seoul’s current account surplus reaches one-year high in October


SEOUL — South Korea’s current account surplus hit a one-year high in October, the central Bank of Korea said Tuesday, but officials said exports are beginning to be hit by the eurozone crisis. The current account surplus, the broadest measure of trade, totaled US$4.23 billion in October, after a revised US$2.83 billion in September. It marked the largest surplus since US$5.49 billion in October last year. The balance remained in the black for the 20th straight month despite recent global turbulence, indicating that the country’s fundamentals remain relatively sound. But Tuesday’s data showed that exports to Japan, China, the Middle East and Southeast Asian nations slowed in October compared to a year earlier, while shipments to the U.S. and Europe also fell.

Senior central bank official Yang Jae-Ryong said the eurozone debt crisis is influencing Korea’s balance of payments to some degree. The central bank said the full-year 2011 current account surplus may reach US$25 billion or more.

But its governor Kim Choong-soo said last month that next year’s surplus is likely to miss the bank’s estimate of US$17 billion due to worsening overseas conditions. The goods account had a US$3.65 billion surplus in October, up from US$2.10 billion in September, as imports slowed at a faster pace than exports. The service account, including outlays by South Koreans on overseas trips, posted a US$2.8 million surplus last month, down from US$70.6 million in September. October’s primary income account, which tracks wages for foreign workers and dividend payments overseas, logged a US$643.5 million surplus in October, up from US$543 million in September.

The capital and financial account, which covers cross-border investments, posted a net outflow of US$4.47 billion in October, larger than a net outflow of US$4.34 billion in September.