South Korea’s economy under pandemic attack
South Korea’s economy under pandemic attack
In the first quarter of this year, South Korea’s coronavirus-hit economy experienced its most severe contraction since 2008.

TEHRAN (Iran News) – In the first quarter of this year, South Korea’s coronavirus-hit economy experienced its most severe contraction since 2008, when a massive financial crisis engulfed the world, indicating that Asia’s fourth-largest economy might not grow in the rest of the year as the pandemic persists.

According to an estimate released by the Bank of Korea on Thursday, the peninsular country’s gross domestic product (GDP) shrank 1.4 percent in the January-to-March period in comparison with the fourth quarter of last year.

Private consumption also decreased over six percent from the previous quarter — the sharpest fall in more than two decades.

Separately in the day, South Korean Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said during a policy meeting that his country’s economy had to brace for a bigger shock from the second three-month period of the year as demand from major trading partners dropped.

The COVID-19 disease, caused by a new coronavirus, was transmitted from wildlife to people in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. It has affected 210 countries and territories across the globe and has so far infected more than 2,646,990 people and killed over 184,370.

Official figures by South Korea’s Health Ministry show that as of Thursday, 10,702 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 240 others have died.

South Korea’s virus containment measures are largely regarded as one of the most effective in the world. The country has managed to bring down its infection caseload without the kinds of draconian lockdowns seen elsewhere.

Still, South Korea’s economy began to become paralyzed since late January, when self-isolation measures throughout the country kept businesses and shops shut down and workers stuck at home.

And the pandemic’s dramatic impact on global trade has left South Korea’s export-reliant economy under unprecedented pressure, the easing of which depends largely on the speed of stimulus measures.

According to Moon Jung-hui, an economist at KB Bank, South Korea’s economy is likely to shrink for at least another three-month period as exports are still expected to go through more “hard times.”

“Consumption will improve especially on increased fiscal expenditure, but exports of key items, including petrochemical products, will suffer,” the economist estimated.

South Korea has begun relaxing some social distancing rules since the weekend, but its economy is in almost a free-fall toward its first technical recession since 2003, defined as two consecutive quarters of decline, as the pandemic prevents an export recovery.

South Korea’s official figures on Thursday show that exports have decreased by two percent compared to the fourth quarter of last year.

Exports for the first 20 days of the current month declined nearly 27 percent year-on-year, and shipments are set to reduce further over the coming months as South Korea’s top trading partners, including Europe and the United States, remain in lockdown.

  • source : PressTV, Iran News