South Korea’s services account deficit neared a record-high figure in March due to the falling number of tourists, central bank data showed on Thursday. Current account balance, the largest measure of capital flow in and out of the country, posted a surplus of $5.93 billion in March, Xinhua news agency quoted the Bank of Korea (BOK). The balance stayed in the black for 61 months since March 2012, but the surplus was down $2.5 billion from February. Affected by the lower tourists, the services account deficit reached $3.27 billion in March, more than tripling a $0.92 billion deficit tallied in 2016. The March deficit in the services sector came close to the all-time high of $3.36 billion in deficit registered in January.
For the first three months in 2017, the services deficit reached $8.86 billion, the biggest quarterly figure in history. The travel account deficit was $1.35 billion in March, the largest since July 2015 when the country was hit by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak. The transport sector deficit increased from $50 million in February to $620 million in March, the highest ever recorded by the country as the shipping industries slumped on faltering global trade.
The current account balance for goods logged a surplus of $9.8 billion due to fast increase in exports, which account for about half of the South Korean economy. The exports expanded 12.8 per cent over the year to $50.38 billion in March, with imports surging 27.5 per cent to $40.58 billion on the back of higher crude oil prices.