Short-term external debt falls to eight-year low

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Short-term external debt falls to eight-year low

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Korea’s ratio of short-term external debt to its foreign reserves eased to an eight-year low at the end of December, central bank data showed yesterday, as its reserves grew at a faster pace than its debt.

The ratio of short-term external debt inched down to 32.6 percent at the end of December, from 33.1 percent at the end of September, the quarterly data showed, marking the lowest since setting 31.3 percent at the end of 2005. Short-term external debt owed by Korea edged up to $112.8 billion by the end of December from $111.5 billion three months earlier, while foreign reserves grew to $346.5 billion from $336.9 billion, Bank of Korea data showed. Asia’s fourth-largest country had the world’s seventh-largest foreign reserves as of the end of December.

Korea’s total external debt edged up to $416.6 billion by the end of last year from $411.0 billion at the end of September, the data showed. That puts the short-term external debt at only 27 percent of total external debt, which is the smallest since 1999 when short-term debt accounted for 29.7 percent of the total.

It is also 4 percentage points less than last year’s 31.1 percent.

The short-term external debt ratio has fallen steadily since reaching 79 percent in late 2008 due to a series of government regulations introduced to curb overseas borrowing and the economic slowdown.

Last year, Korea’s external investment grew to $954.2 billion from $857.8 billion in 2012.

BY LEE HO-JEONG, REUTERS [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]


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