Foreign-currency loans extended by South Korean banks declined last year from a year earlier, as a stronger won helped borrowers repay their outstanding debts, the financial regulator said Thursday.
The amount of foreign currency-denominated loans extended by local banks reached US$29.93 billion in the January-December period of 2012, according to the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS).
The figure has been on the decline since it hit $43.10 billion as of the end of 2008, the FSS said.
From 2010, the watchdog began to curb foreign-currency lending unless it had actual demand overseas or was to be used for smaller firms' facility investment.
The on-year drop came as borrowers managed to repay their outstanding foreign-currency debts without having to refinance them on the back of the won's ascent. The Korean won rose 7.7 percent and 19.1 percent against the U.S. dollar and the Japanese yen in 2012, FSS data showed.
Loans denominated in U.S. dollar and Japanese yen both sank by $2.6 billion to $16.7 billion and $2.85 billion to $13.1 billion, respectively, over the cited period.
Meanwhile, the delinquency ratio of banks' foreign-currency loans came in at 0.83 percent as of end-December, down 0.5 percentage point from a year ago, as lenders opted to write off bad loans, the FSS said.