The Bank of Korea announced on Oct. 8 that South Korea’s exports and imports totaled US$45.15 billion and US$40.39 billion in August, respectively. Its goods account surplus fell from US$10.92 billion to US$4.77 billion in one year and hit a 67-month low.
The goods account surplus has continued to decrease for about five years. Specifically, it had been US$120.2 billion in 2015 but fell to US$116.4 billion in 2016, US$113.5 billion in 2017, and US$111.8 billion last year. It totaled US$48 billion for the first eight months of this year.
The rapid decline in goods account surplus was led by a decrease in semiconductor export value, which dropped from over US$11.8 billion to US$8.2 billion from August last year to August this year. Likewise, the value of electrical and electronic product exports dropped more than 25 percent year on year and exports to China and the Middle East fell more than 20 percent from a year ago.
In August this year, South Korea’s travel account deficit decreased approximately US$500 million year on year to US$1.07 billion. This was because more Chinese tourists visited South Korea whereas South Korean tourists refrained from visiting Japan amid Japan’s export curbs against South Korea. Specifically, the number of such Chinese tourists rose 20.9 percent and the number of such South Koreans dropped 48 percent to 309,000.