South Korea achieved a record current account surplus last year as imports fell faster than exports during the global economic downturn, the central bank said Wednesday.
The surplus was 42.67 billion dollars in 2009 compared to a deficit of 5.78 billion in 2008 which was caused by higher oil prices, the Bank of Korea said.
In December the surplus was 1.52 billion dollars, smaller than the 4.28 billion the previous month. It was the 11th straight month of a surplus in the current account, the widest measure of cross-border trade.
The figure is widely expected to lend further support to the won, which has gained 37 percent against the dollar amid steady inflows of foreign capital since hitting an 11-year low in early March.
The goods balance posted a surplus of 56.1 billion dollars in 2009 compared with a 5.67 billion dollar surplus the previous year.
Exports fell 13.7 percent year-on-year to 373.6 billion dollars in 2009 while imports declined 25.7 percent to 317.5 billion.
A shortfall in the service account, which includes spending by South Koreans on overseas trips, widened to 17.2 billion dollars last year compared with 16.7 billion a year earlier.
The income account, which measures wages for foreign workers and dividend payments overseas, achieved a surplus of 4.55 billion dollars in 2009, down from 5.9 billion in 2008.
The capital account which covers cross-border investments saw a net inflow of 26.5 billion dollars in 2009 -- the largest ever -- compared to a net outflow of 50.1 billion the previous year.
The central bank said the country is expected to see a smaller surplus of around 17 billion dollars this year as imports rise during the world economic recovery.
Source: AFP Asian Edition