SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s current account surplus narrowed sharply in January due to higher oil prices, the central bank said Tuesday.

The current account surplus reached US$7.06 billion last month, narrowing from a surplus of $11.51 billion the previous month, according to the Bank of Korea (BOK). The current account is the broadest measure of cross-border trade.

Since the country logged a deficit of $3.33 billion in April last year, the largest in almost a decade, on faltering exports amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the current account has stayed in the black.

The goods balance logged a surplus of $5.73 billion in January, smaller than a surplus of $10.5 billion the previous month.

Exports, which account for half of the South Korean economy, rose 11.4 percent on-year in January to extend their on-year gains for the third consecutive month on the back of brisk demand for chips and cars.

Exports came to $48 billion last month, compared with $43 billion a year earlier.

Imports edged up 3.1 percent to $44 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $3.96 billion. It marked the ninth consecutive month for the country to post a trade surplus.

The country’s overseas shipments have been battered by the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the pace of the slump has eased since June last year as major economies slowly began resuming business activities and easing border lockdowns.