South Korea's current account surplus shrank from a month earlier in August mainly on a fall in exports that led to a cut in the surplus in the goods balance, data showed Friday.
The current account surplus came to $8.46 billion in August, compared with a revised $9.3 billion surplus in the previous month, according to the preliminary data from the Bank of Korea.
The on-month drop was largely attributed to a greater drop in the balance of goods, which slumped to $8.97 billion from $10.05 billion over the cited period.
Both exports and imports continued to shrink from a year earlier in August. Exports plunged 11.7 percent on-year in August, marking the eighth consecutive month of decline. Imports dropped 17.7 percent from a year earlier.
The fall in exports was attributed to a cut in global oil prices, which in turn pulled down the export prices of petroleum and petrochemical products, South Korea's key export items that together account for nearly one-fourth of total exports.
"The dip in exports in August was largely due to a drop in shipments of petroleum products caused by a fall in global oil prices," Park Seung-hwan, an official from the BOK's monetary and financial statistics division, told a press briefing.
The trade ministry earlier said the average price of Dubai crude, accounting for nearly 80 percent of the country's total oil imports, has been more than halved to $45.80 per barrel in September from $96.60 a year earlier, leading to a 46.1 percent on-year plunge in the price of South Korea's petroleum products.
The deficit in the service account narrowed to $1.34 billion in August from a $1.92 billion deficit a month earlier as the travel account deficit shrank significantly, an apparent sign of the recovery from the fallout of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome outbreak here.
In July, the deficit in the travel account reached $1.45 billion, the worst reading since July 2008, as a large number of foreigners called off their visits to South Korea apparently out of fear of contracting the potentially deadly disease.
The disease has claimed 36 lives in the country since the outbreak here was first confirmed in late May. In an attempt to assure the local public and also lure foreign tourists, the government declared a de facto end to the outbreak in late July, nearly a month after it reported the last infection.
The health ministry said late Thursday that the country's last remaining MERS patient has tested negative for the viral disease, adding that with no additional cases, the country will be able to call an official end to the outbreak this month.
In August, the travel account deficit came to $1.06 billion.
The surplus in the primary income account also narrowed as income from both dividend and interest dipped from a month earlier.
The primary income account surplus came to $910 million in August, down from a surplus of $1.28 billion in July. (Yonhap)