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Foreign Reserves in South Korea on the Rise

South Korea has reached a significant financial milestone, with the country’s foreign reserves hitting a record high. This may be encouraging news to exporters in South Korea, who like exporters throughout Asia are currently facing the challenge of a slump in demand – but what exactly are foreign reserves, and how does this development affect South Korea’s global financial position?

About Foreign Reserves

Foreign exchange reserve (or forex reserve) is a term used to describe the total amount of foreign currency deposits and bonds held by a country’s financial authorities and central banks. The purpose of official foreign currency reserves is to ensure that a country’s central bank can purchase the domestic currency (despite the fact that it is considered a liability) and in so doing, stabilise that currency’s value. China is currently home to the world’s largest foreign exchange reserve; other top countries include Japan, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Brazil. The latest rise in South Korea’s foreign reserves saw the country rise to seventh place in the global rankings at the end of January 2012.While the term foreign reserve strictly refers only to matters of foreign currency bonds and deposits, it is also more broadly used to refer to gold, position in the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and supplementary assets known as Special Drawing Rights (SDRs).

About South Korea’s Foreign Reserves

South Korea’s foreign exchange reserves reached an impressive 315.8 billion dollars at the end of February 2012 –according to the Bank of Korea, this marks a 4.46-billion-dollar increase between January and February.

What is the cause of this phenomenal rise in South Korea’s foreign exchange reserves? BOK representatives say it is due to the country’s increasing investment profits, as well as the increased conversion value of South Korea’s non-dollar-denominated assets.How are the foreign reserves of South Korea (also known as the Republic of Korea or ROK) divided? The Bank of Korea reported that the reserves consist chiefly of:

• Securities – 289.5bn dollars

• Deposits – 179.7bn dollars

• Special Drawing Rights – 3.56bn dollars

• International Monetary Fund positions – 2.6bn dollars

• Gold bullion – 2.17bn dollars

Based on the figures above, it seems that the core foreign reserve assets – namely securities and deposits – have been the main contributing factors to the rise in the ROK foreign exchange reserves, followed by those included under the broader category of foreign reserves (SDR, IMF positions and gold).

Will the coming months see South Korea’s foreign reserves reaching even greater heights and rising up through the ranks among the top five, or even the top three? We’ll be paying close attention to foreign reserve developments in the ROK this quarter.

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Date:
March 24, 2012 um 7:50 am
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