SEOUL, May 7 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s current account surplus widened from a year earlier in March as a sharp increase in primary income helped offset a slight drop in its goods account surplus, central bank data showed Thursday.

The country’s current account surplus came to US$6.23 billion in the month, compared with a $5.04 billion surplus the same month last year, according to the data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).

South Korea has posted a current account surplus for 11 consecutive months.’

Its goods account surplus sharply narrowed to $7 billion from $8.34 billion a year earlier as exports dropped at a faster rate than imports.

The country’s outbound shipments slipped 0.2 percent on-year to $46.9 billion in March, with imports falling 0.3 percent to $41.8 billion over the cited period.

On a customs clearance basis, the country’s exports dipped 3.3 percent on-year to $46.4 billion in March, the BOK said.

Imports slipped 0.6 percent to $39.4 billion, it added.

The country’s service account continued to be in the red in March, but its deficit narrowed to $1.46 billion from $2.1 billion a year earlier.

Its travel account deficit widened to $370 million from a $170 million deficit in March 2019 on a plunge in the number of foreign visitors to South Korea caused by the spread of the new coronavirus.

In March, the number of visitors to the country tumbled 94.6 percent on-year to around 80,000, while the number of South Koreans going overseas fell 93.9 percent to some 143,000, according to the BOK.

The country’s surplus in the intellectual property rights payment account narrowed to $550 million from $950 million a year earlier.

Its primary income account posted a $930 million surplus, marking a turnaround from a $610 million deficit a year earlier, according to the BOK.

The country posted a $970 million surplus in investment income, largely due to its dividend payment income turning to a $400 million surplus from a $1.24 billion deficit a year before.