SEOUL, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's current account surplus hit a new high last year thanks to solid exports, which account for around half of the economy, central bank data showed Wednesday.
Current account surplus reached a fresh high of 70.73 billion U. S. dollars in 2013, up 47.2 percent from the prior record high of 48.08 billion dollars tallied in 2012, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK).
The 2013 surplus almost tripled the BOK's initial forecast of 25 billion dollars estimated in October 2012.
Exports increased 3 percent from a year earlier to 570.92 billion dollars last year, but imports fell 0.8 percent to 510.21 billion dollars. Trade surplus for goods came in at 60.71 billion dollars.
"Exports bolstered the current account balance despite the tough macroeconomic conditions," Jung Yung Taek, director general of the BOK's economic statistics department, told reporters.
Jung said that the ratio of current account surplus to GDP was estimated at around 6 percent, noting that it was a high level similar to those with Germany and some oil exporters in the Middle East.
In terms of volume, exports and imports rose 5.2 percent and 4. 3 percent each last year, indicating the brisk trade of the country in 2013.
Jung said that last year's fall of import value stemmed mainly from lower global commodity prices, adding that imports of consumer and capital goods grew at a rate of around 8 percent.
Surplus in the service industry was 6 billion dollars, up from the 270 million dollars in the previous year.
Simultaneous surplus both in the service and goods sectors was attributed to improved competitiveness in the manufacturing industry, which led to a margin hike in the service sector in the process of intermediary trade.
Surplus in the transport and construction sectors offset a deficit of 7.33 billion dollars in the travel account, while primary income account, including dividend and interest payments, posted a surplus of 4.8 billion dollars.
The financial account, which gauges net flows of foreign capital in and out of the country, logged a net outflow of 72.41 billion dollars in 2013, marking the record yearly high. The previous high was 51.37 billion dollars tallied in 2012.
Other investment account, which includes foreign debts, recorded a net outflow of 41.77 billion dollars last year as local financial companies repaid foreign debts to enhance their financial healthiness.
Portfolio account, which measures investment of stocks and bonds, posted a net outflow of 6.94 billion dollars in 2013, shifting from a net inflow of 6.86 billion dollars in the prior year.
In December last year, the current account surplus was 6.43 billion dollars, up from 6.03 billion dollars a month earlier.
Trade surplus of goods reduced to 5.71 billion dollars last month from 6.18 billion dollars in the prior month, but the service industry turned into a surplus of 440 million dollars in December from a deficit of 700 million dollars in November.