S. Korea current account surplus up sharply

April 29, 2013 at 1:00 AM
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SEOUL, April 29 (UPI) -- South Korea's central bank said its current account surplus, aided by rising tech item exports, jumped to $4.98 billion in March from $2.71 billion in February.

Exports rose despite the weakening yen, the Bank of Korea said Monday.

The economies of both South Korea and Japan are driven by exports, and a weaker yen makes Japanese goods cheaper in markets where South Korean products also compete. The Korean won has risen more than 20 percent against the yen since November.

The March reading was the largest since November. It was the 14th straight month the account ran a surplus, Yonhap News reported.

March exports increased 1.3 percent year-on-year, while imports fell 1.5 percent, the bank said, bringing the cumulative first quarter current account surplus to $10.02 billion.

BOK Gov. Kim Choong-soo, however, warned last week the yen's weakening trend is likely to persist for a long time, which could affect South Korean exports.

"The yen's (negative) impacts are likely to be the most visible in the second or third quarter," Kim Young-bae, director general of the BOK economic statistics division, told a new conference, Yonhap reported. He said rising overseas production has made exports less vulnerable to price swings.

Kim predicted the surplus for April is likely to surpass an average surplus in the first quarter.

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