S. Korea’s current account surplus grows to US$3.96 bil. in December


SEOUL — South Korea posted a current account surplus for the 22nd straight month in December despite the global economic slowdown, the central bank said Monday.

The surplus in the account, the broadest measure of international trade, was US$3.96 billion in December compared to a revised US$4.56 billion in November and a surplus of US$956 million in December 2010. The figure shows the country’s fundamentals remain solid despite economic sluggishness in the United States and Europe. But growth in exports has lately been moderating. Exports on a customs-cleared basis rose 10.8 percent in December from a year earlier after an 11.6-percent increase in November, amid weaker exports of mobile phones and display panels. Exports to European countries fell 19.7 percent in December year-on year, compared to a 5.1-percent fall in Europe-bound shipments last November. But the bank said demand from the Middle East and Japan rose sharply. The service account, which includes spending by South Koreans on overseas trips, saw a deficit of US$205 million last month compared to a surplus of US$360 million in November. The primary income account, which measures wages for foreign workers and dividend payments overseas, saw a surplus of US$490 million in December, up from US$450 million in November. The current account surplus for the whole of last year reached US$27.65 billion compared to US$29.39 billion in 2010. The central bank last month forecast that the surplus will fall to US$13 billion in 2012. The faltering world economy is set to hit growth in export-dependent South Korea. The government last month cut its 2012 growth forecast to 3.7 percent from 4.5 percent. The economy, Asia’s fourth largest, grew at its slowest pace for two years in the final quarter of 2011. Growth for the whole of last year was 3.6 percent.